The Enemy, Reading Festival

Richard and Judy fans: the ruin of indie rock
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You know the people you see at festivals and wonder what they're doing there? Polo shirt by Nickelson or Hackett, three-quarter-length shorts by Top Man, sunburn by Thomas Cook, paunch by Walkabout, trainers by slave labour? Well, The Enemy is what they're doing here.

It would be simple to stop this train of thought in its tracks and say, "Oh, so you mean they're the outsiders among the outsiders?" But no, it's far simpler than that. They're the normals, the conformists, and they've been the ruin of independent rock ever since a monobrow was first sighted on Top of the Pops.

And they're absolutely packing the tent today. From the very first song, this Coventry/Solihull trio, right, send a sea of air-punching woah-woah's rippling from front to back.

Lads' bands are nothing new. At any given moment, there are several knocking around, and the present, from the half-decent (Hard-Fi) to the atrocious (The Twang), is no exception. At first sight, however, The Enemy appeared promising. The title of their debut album, We'll Live and Die in These Towns, spoke of a modicum of life-of-the-mind, and its sleeve art is as crafty as the first Hard-Fi album's: I can't see a railway departure board now without thinking of The Enemy.

On closer inspection, however, a different picture emerges. NME trailed The Enemy as "incendiary" at the start of the year, but you can't imagine them lighting up much more then 10 Bensons in a bus shelter. They are, you see, what Marx would have termed lumpenproletariat. Tom Clarke may be sufficiently socially aware to sing "I'm so sick, sick, sick and tired of working just to be retired/I don't want to get that far/I don't want your company car", but he doesn't take that thought far enough. Rather than come up with a solution to the slow death entailed by being "a slave to the modern wage", he just says he'd rather stay at home and watch Richard & Judy.

This is why, even though they align themselves with The Specials and paint a similarly grey world of petrol stations and pram-pushers, supermarkets and TV meals, they'll never be more than a dumbed-down version of The Jam, eulogising the joys of "banging on the back seat all night long".

The most political thing that Clarke, in his drizzle-drenched Weller cut and chavvy trackie top, has to say today is a complaint about the difficulty of finding a parking space. This figures. After all, that all-important boy racer demographic pays his wages

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