TOM CLARKE - Cardiff Globe
Tom Clarke was the diminutive lead singer and song writer of Coventry rock trio The Enemy. He was a journalist's dream and always ready with a printable quote, be it making fun of The Horrors' hair or having a full on feud with XFM's Alex Zane. The band had initial impetuous and scored four consecutive top 30 chart entries. However, things started to stagnate with the "difficult second album" and in 2016 after 10 years, countless tours and 4 albums, they called it a day citing a lack of media interest and health issues as the main reasons for their split. The latter referenced Clarke's previous revelation that he was suffering from depression.
After seeing them in Bristol on their farewell tour, I assumed that would be the last time I would hear their terrace-like anthems played live. However, out of the blue, earlier this year Clarke announced that he would be returning to the live arena, but this time solo and acoustically. Additionally he would be playing the band's debut, and best, album "We'll Live and Die in these Towns" in totality. If for no other reason than curiosity, I duly purchased my ticket and shipped up at Cardiff's Globe, a small venue on the outskirts of the City.
The 'Sold Out' signs indicated that his popularity hadn't waned, but did not auger well for my comfort given that it had been the hottest day of the year so far. Indeed on entering the venue it was a cross between a blast furnace and a sauna, although this didn't seem to unduly worry the largely football casual audience in attendance, with wall to wall Fred Perry, Pretty Green, Ben Sherman, shorts and Adidas Gazelles being the standard attire of the night.
Actually it turned out that Tom wasn't on his own, but augmented by a guitarist and a keyboard player. I had worried that some of the all out rock tracks on the album would not translate to a being played unplugged and in truth not all do. Some like "Had Enough", "We Live and Die in these Towns" and "Away From Here" easily made the transition, but my favourite track "It's Not OK" didn't retain the original's energy and seemed a bit insipid. However, the one track I loathed "Happy Birthday Jane" actually sounded better played this way. Still, none of this seemed to worry the audience who lapped it all up and carried on the "This Song is About You " chant well after he had left the stage.
Overall. it was great to hear the tracks again, even if I would have preferred them to have been done in all their glory by The Enemy. However, Tom Clarke must be applauded for having the guts to try something different and if his parting comment of "you may see me again sooner that you think", he's obviously looking to be in it for the long haul, rather than a quick trip down memory lane.