As I wave my last goodbye. I won’t feel shame, I won’t ask why.
Words by Billy Hodder
When The Enemy walked off the stage at The Empire in Coventry on Saturday night, they left with the same integrity, principles and purity that they had when they entered the music industry almost 10 years ago with their chart topping debut single ‘To Live And Die In These Towns’. Only now, they have a legacy.
We should mourn The Enemy disbanding. We should grieve and we should yearn for the loss of a band that is very much the pinnacle, and perhaps last, working-class alternative band that based their music, their image and their brand on nothing else than themselves. A bunch of working-class lads from the West Midlands with an extraordinary talent for unifying choruses and an ability to write lyrics that are very much a cultural-narrative for the working-class.
Their debut album ‘To Live And Die In These Towns’ is one of the greatest alternative albums from the 00s. So when Tom Clarke announced to fans in Coventry in one of their last ever shows this week “tonight we’re going to do something that we’ve done throughout the whole of this tour, we’re going to play every single song off that first album, because we know how much it f*cking means to some of you.” It was met with delight from a fan-base that is leaving it’s own legacy behind.
It is a fan base that encapsulates and personifies the band itself. The Enemy have supported the likes of Oasis, Kasabian, The libertines, The Rolling Stones and many more and have sold out arenas. Their live performances have rightfully warranted the label of being some of the best performances amongst the alternative music scene, and that is largely down to their fans. In a recent interview with Clash, Tom Clarke said, “They’re the most insane crowd I’ve ever seen – you can go and watch a metal gig but I guarantee you their fans don’t go as mad as ours. I’ve seen people in the front row lose teeth and then carry on singing”.
Tom Clarke himself has encountered his own problems and demons in the last 10 years. But he is, and will remain, one of the greatest lyricists of the alternative scene. His unifying and consolidating choruses have the ability to be echoed by hundreds of voices anywhere. For when Tom Clarke tells a crowd to “f*cking sing it”, that is what they do. These are lyrics that people have tattooed on their skin. These are lyrics that embody and manifest in a life of living in a working –class city. A life where we live for the weekend, a life where we dream of getting away from here, but a life where we know we’ll live and die in these towns.
Perhaps they were victims of their own success. The albums that followed their chart-topping debut album were just as strong, but it was always going to be a struggle and a battle to recapture and recreate the success and momentum that came with that debut album.
The Enemy leave behind a legacy and their integrity. But this integrity and set of principles are scarce and are vanishing from the music industry. What The Enemy had was a form of escapism. Much more than just music. The Enemy provided a mantra for those caught in a class struggle. The Enemy embodied and exemplified the principles that set the foundations for alterative music and they never shifted from this or attempted to be anything else than themselves.
The Enemy will live on. A couple of weeks ago fans left their gig in London singing “This song is about you” on the buses, on the escalators and on the tube.
While we may say goodbye, this is not the end, Thank you to The Enemy.
If you want me, then come and get me. I’m leaving this world behind.