The Enemy at Manchester’s O2 Ritz, What happened? Support from LITTLE MAN TATE
‘00s indie is something of a divisive genre. Often referred to as ‘landfill’, it was an era in British music that spawned legions of bands of varying quality, and while some have gone on to become household names, others have been forgotten almost entirely, confined to the murky depths of obscure Wikipedia pages and fuzzy memories of underage clubbing.
One band who sits somewhere in between the two, is Coventry trio The Enemy, a band whose debut album went straight to number 1 and whose music provided the soundtrack to a thousand misspent youths. Indeed, said album is the reason we’re here. The first of two nights at Manchester’s iconic O2 Ritz, celebrating 15 years since the release of We’ll Live and Die in These Towns.
But first however, there’s the small matter of Sheffield’s Little Man Tate to contend with. A prime example of ‘00s indie at its most bouncy and buoyant, they’re a band who never quite got the attention they deserved, despite two albums and a smattering of well received singles. As a result, the band broke up in 2009, reforming only recently for two reunion shows in their hometown, and now these support slots also.
And thank god they did. Having never managed to catch the band first time round, it’s a pleasure to do so this time around. Tracks such as ‘Man I Hate Your Band’ and ‘This Must Be Love’ still sound just as fresh and just as exciting as they did do on their release. And though there’s pockets of tonight’s crowd that seem unfamiliar with them, there’s plenty that are. A rousing rendition of ‘House Party at Boothys’ closes out the bands set, leaving us in no doubt that Little Man Tate are one of the most overlooked bands of their generation.
With just enough time to grab a pint from one of the venue’s many bars, we take our places as the band launch immediately into album opener ‘Aggro’. On cue, the whole crowd erupts into a mass of flailing limbs and bodies, and recently bought pints are sent sailing through the air almost in unison.
While The Enemy might not have reached the same heights as other bands of that era, it’s immediately obvious just how much this music means to those in the room tonight. ‘Away From Here’ provides the evening’s first true singalong, while ‘Had Enough’ continues in much the same vein.
Of course, the eponymous ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ receives an almost rapturous response. Beer-soaked strangers hug each other whilst belting back every word to the men on stage. It’s life-affirming, goosebumps-giving stuff, and moments like this are exactly why live music is so important.
Elsewhere, other singles such as ’40 Days & 40 Nights’ (complete with a snippet of The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’) is well received, but it’s a hugely rousing ‘This Song’ that receives the evening’s biggest reaction; indie anthemia at its finest.
‘Happy Birthday Jane’ closes out the main set, and indeed the album’s entirety. A rapid break and the band are back on stage for an encore comprised of singles from their second and third albums, before a final reprise of ‘This Song’ sees the crowd explode in unison; a singalong that lasts even after the houselights come on and a sweaty, beer-soaked crowd are ushered into the autumnal air, safe in the knowledge that they’ve just come together to celebrate a record that means so much to so many.