The EnemyAustin Music Hall, Thursday, March 14
Austin Music Hall? It's an echoing cavern, and with only a modest core of dedicated fans present here, those acoustics could've swallowed an echo-happy big-gesture group like U2. Yet Coventry, UK's the Enemy beat the crud-o-phonic sound down with aplomb, attacking its soaring anthems with fire and skill. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Tom Clarke remains a neck-vein-popping, bug-eyed stage presence, spitting out his tales of escaping backwater towns with raw passion. Liam Watts pounds like a miniature Keith Moon behind the kit, while bassist Andy Hopkins doubles as the Enemy's Paul Simonon, easily assuming teen heartthrob status in thumping the bottom-end in a pacing, harmonizing, off-mic fashion. They remind older ears of great English bands like the Jam without being a revival group or coming off as a watered-down Xerox. Transistor radio guitar sound be damned, the Enemy smashed out one anthem after another: "Gimme the Sign," "Away From Here," "We'll Live and Die in These Towns." "We're the Enemy," Clarke screams one song in, "We come from a small town in the UK, and we believe rock & roll is supposed to be live!" If I were 16 again and seeing the Enemy now, they'd be my Clash. They should be on bedroom walls and in hearts and minds all over.