Cardiff University - 16 April 2009

Just over 2 years ago I stood in a very nearly empty Cardiff HMV watching an in-store gig by a new group promoting their first single release. To my eyes the 3 band members looked about 13, barely strong enough to hold their instruments and the lead singer seemed only just able to reach the microphone. However they had bags of attitude and made one hell of a racket. Fast forward 24 months and I'm here to witness the same band undertake a repeat HMV appearance, only now they have a string of hit singles under their belt, a No 1 debut album and a stellar reputation as a live act. The band by the way are Coventry's finest-The Enemy.

Having waited an age for entry, the assembled masses squeezed between the CD racks, to await the arrival of the boys. Apparently the delay was as a result of HMV's floor being metal which was causing a danger of potential artiste electrocution, which seems to sum up the strangeness of seeing bands play in venues such as this, jammed in between Paul Potts CD's, Nintendo Wii's and box sets of Desperate Housewives. However eventually the boys saunter on and Tom launches into old favourite "Live And Die In These Towns ", which is quickly followed by the new single "No Time For Tears " which was the first time I had heard any of their new material. I was both surprised and pleased to find that they had deviated from the Oasis/Jam type of music evident on their first album, and even had a young lady join them on the vocals. If this track is indicative of the new release then the signs are good. They rap up their brief appearance with "You're Not Alone", and then invite the audience to both purchase the single and get it autographed on the way out. Unfortunately due to the overrun in proceedings I had another band to see across town so made my excuses and left.

Twisted Wheel and Spillers Gang

Spillers Records prides itself on being the "Oldest Record Shop in the World" having been trading since 1894, and while I have no doubt this moniker is true, it may also be the smallest. After the large Enemy entourage on show previously (Roadies, Bouncers, Guitar Techs) it was refreshing to see that Twisted Wheel's in-store performance consisted of one stool set up in a corner, and a middle aged bloke bringing in an acoustic guitar from his van. They seem to have a growing reputation and follow up their jaunt with the Enemy by supporting both Oasis and Paul Weller, however just to prove that not everything is plain sailing the always obtuse NME was particularly unkind about their debut album. Due to space restrictions only lead singer Jonny Brown was able to actually play, and having purchased their recent single "Lucy the Castle ", I was looking forward to hearing him at least in the flesh. He duly bangs out three numbers from the aforementioned eponymous offering -to the 30 or so punters jammed in every orifice of the shop -in the shape of "Strife", "Bad Candy" and "Bouncing Bomb". Whilst it was difficult to be objective about songs ostensibly meant to be played by a band, and on electric guitars , I couldn't see anything immediately wrong with them. So much so that I hung around and bought the album, which the band were kind enough to autograph. Nice lads.

Twisted Wheel

Just enough time to take on some liquid refreshment before its off to Cardiff University and part three of my musical wanderings for the evening. I arrive just in time to see my "old friends" Twisted Wheel take to the stage, and its amazing what a spot of electricity will do, as they sound a completely different band from only 75 minutes earlier. Immediately it is evident why they were chosen as the support as there are definite similarities in sound with the headlining band, not that this is a bad thing. Just for me they start with "Lucy the Castle" and "She's a Weapon", and thereafter the rest of the new album is belted through at breakneck speed. Very much the front man, Jonny has a gravelly rock'n'roll voice and holds centre stage while belting out tracks like "We Are Us", "Strife", "Let Them Have It All", "Bad Candy", "You Stole The Sun" and "Bouncing Bomb". So despite what the NME said I thoroughly enjoyed their set and wouldn't hesitate to see them live again. Anyway, its a well known fact all rock journalists are wankers!

Pic : Steve Bateman

And so to The Enemy. Before I start I should say this will be my 7th time I have caught the Coventry umpa lumpa's live and therefore would say they were metaphorically singing to the converted. So it was with an air of anticipation that I waited to hear numbers from the new album, especially as my previous earlier taster of the new single had been so positive. Therefore as the stage was flooded with dry ice, and the house lights dimmed in preparation of their immanent arrival, I was expecting great things. In truth I was to be disappointed, as after the initial new song "Elephant Song", the set list then was taken almost entirely from their debut album. Now I loved this record when it first came out, and happily shouted out the vocals when I saw them several times in 2007, but in truth I am now getting a bit sick of it. Yes, I will always love their greatest moment "It's Not OK" , but even I am starting to find great rocks songs like "Away From Here" and "You're Not Alone" somewhat irksome due to repetition. It should be said that I was probably in a minority as the crowd seemed to lap up tracks like "Pressure", "Had Enough", "We Live and Die", "Technodanceaphobic ", "40 Days And 40 Nights ", "Your Song" etc. Having said that, the audience seemed very close to that seen recently at Oasis gigs, i.e. the football crowd type who rarely go to live concerts and only want an evening of lager filled sing-a-long sessions. It would be a shame if a likeable, and talented, bunch of lads like the Enemy end up having to play the same songs repeatedly for the rest of their career, especially as the new single sounds even better the second time around. The only other new track "Sing When You're In Love" seemed to confirm a departure from the sound of their debut release and maybe this was the reason they seemed reticent to play any further new tracks, which was a shame. All in all an enjoyable evening, but with a somewhat unfulfilling finale.