Following on from the sophisticated chic of diva Grace Jones, the Somerset House Summer Series changed tack with the testosterone-fuelled lad rock of The Enemy.
But this was one of those rare occasions when the headline band was upstaged by the support acts. Kicking off was Jersey Budd, a talented 24-year-old singer-songwriter who has the potential to become the biggest musical success story to come out of Leicester since Kasabian.
Dubbed the ‘East Midlands Bruce Springsteen‘, Budd and his backing band led by able guitarist Ben Pearce put on a storming set based on recent debut album Wonderlands which shows the big influence of The Boss to positive effect. The sound of classic 70s American rock may seem over-derivative but with songs as good as She Came Back, Shotgun Times and Bright Soul, and such a strong voice, the future looks bright for Budd.
He was followed by Reverend And The Makers, the Sheffield indie electronic funksters fronted by the charismatic “Reverend” Jon McClure. Plugging their imminent second album A French Kiss In The Chaos, they put on an entertaining show with rock-solid grooves from the likes of Heavyweight Champion Of The World and new single Silence Is Talking. Fresh from supporting Oasis at Wembley Stadium (like The Enemy), they certainly got the crowd going.
When the headliners eventually took to the stage they still seemed to be stuck in stadium mode as they blasted the elegant Georgian courtyard with 45 minutes of angry attitude. The Coventry trio, with bellowing frontman Tom Clarke in trademark buttoned-up-to-the-chin jacket, gave a full-blooded performance which pleased their hardcore followers but didn’t give the songs any air to breathe.
Surprisingly, The Enemy played more songs from their debut album We’ll Live And Die In These Towns than their second recently released album Music For The People – but maybe not so surprising since the latter was a massive letdown after their initial success and the crowd wanted to sing along to their early favourites.
However, whether they were aggro anthems like Away From Here, Had Enough and No Time For Tears or more reflective songs such as Sing When You’re in Love and This Song, they tended to be performed in a fast and furious monotonous style bereft of subtlety. Only the acoustic We’ll Live And Die In These Towns stood out from the unvaried noise.
This was a real shame; despite being lumped in amongst ‘indie landfill’ acts The Enemy have some decent songs in their repertoire. But the night seemed more about satisfying football crowd-type tribal identity than focusing on musical quality, with plenty of macho posturing both on stage and off. Sometimes it seems a band can be its own worst enemy.