Fist fights, shouting, no shows, ferocious music… It’s not called the Rock’n’Roll Riot tour for nothing
“There was a knife fight between The Wombats and Bizzle at the aftershow in Cambridge that left four injured and Wombat mascot Cherub fatally de-stuffed.” “Lethal’s bottled it, fled back to Walthamstow, taking The Wombats’ van with all their gear still in it.” “Nah, mate: Bizzle was having indie-collaboration-withdrawal so bad that he had to stop over in Bristol to record a duet with Murph.” “Rubbish, they’re clearly all allergic to the Welsh.”
The rumours around Cardiff University’s Great Hall as to the “unforeseen circumstances” that have caused both Lethal Bizzle and The Wombats to cancel their sets tonight (while last-minute support act Pint Shot Riot set up onstage, then fail to play because their drummer doesn’t turn up in time) are bizarre.
So, as the O2 NME Rock’N’Roll Riot Tour threatens to live up to its name, with drunken, rock-starved fist-fights breaking out in the moshpit, it falls to singer Tom Clarke, from tonight’s remaining act
– The Enemy – to regain order…“The singer from The Wombats has lost his voice,” he barks. “It happens on tour. Bizzle got stuck on the M4 and couldn’t get here. Now this is my fucking show and you’re here to get pissed and have a dance, so you cunts stop fighting and let these people have a good time.”
You heard. And, sure enough, The Enemy deliver three bands’ worth of rock, blazing straight into ‘Away From Here’ and ‘40 Days And 40 Nights’ with a fire-breathing ferocity. The step up to the uni halls and theatres suits them, lets them puff out the medallion-clad rawk chests strapped beneath their standard issue indie lad cagoules. Drummer Liam Watts is suddenly possessed by the drum-exploding poltergeist of Keith Moon during ‘Had Enough’’s paradiddles; the rat-tat-tat rockney stomp of ‘Aggro’ expands to resemble a hair metal Chas & Dave; the anti-love ‘This Song’ unfurls to expose hidden Smithsian guitar curls; ‘Banging On The Backseat’ barges out of the fuzz fog of old to reveal disco drum tinks and deep ska thunks, like a rock hard Hard-Fi. They’ve grown bigger, brasher, and in ‘We’ll Live And Die In These Towns’, bolder too: its strum frenzies and vision of urban desolation – the TV dinners, the smashed-up windows, cheap perfume – forge a unifying Band Of The People address that would have made early Paul Weller proud. By the time out-and-out pop banger ‘You’re Not Alone’ closes tonight’s truncated bill, stocky, topless men are swaying from the shoulders of the blokes they were enthusiastically leathering just an hour before. Now let’s hope the Rock’n’Roll Riot tour can reunite as harmoniously…
“What’s my name, Newcastle?”
Newcastle : “BIZZLE! BIZZLE!”
The following night in Tyneside and the riot is back on the rails. The Wombats’ singer Murph has been patched up by the ‘rock doc’ and Lethal Bizzle is bounding around the Carling Academy stage grabbing his crotch, waving his arms in the ay-er and acting all surprised that the northeast’s indie throng knows his name, despite the fact that he’s guested on approximately 87 per cent of all indie records released in 2007. And we wish him many more ‘featuring’s to come, because he’s ace. The motormouth grime bluster and disco samples of ‘Police On My Back’ gets the crowd flipping the bird to the ‘filth’, while later a smirking sample of Monie Love’s ‘It’s A Shame’ morphs into a full two minutes of House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ with barely a twang of the genre nerve endings. Pow? Nah mate, kazam.
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From the polar opposite end of ‘gangsta’, heeeere’s The Wombats. Hugging Cherub to their chests and doing an a cappella barbershop intro called ‘Girls, Boys And Marsupials’ before grabbing guitars and racing into ‘Lost In The Post’, a “woooo”-smothered pop tune imagining that an errant girlfriend has gone to wherever Santa letters go. Hug them or throttle them, there’s no denying their hook-blitzing punch. ‘Moving To New York’, ‘Kill The Director’, ‘Backfire At The Disco’, the ’80s-tinged ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’, are all indie dancefloor classics, and songs that put a smile on your face faster than licking out Klaxons’ ‘smuggling pockets’.
To top that, The Enemy blast out tonight. “You gonna fucking have it Newcastle, or what?” bellows Tom to an audience reception not seen since the Red Sea parted, and his band storm through their blowtorch-to-the-face rock set with barely a pit-stop, effortlessly proving themselves the most sure-fire future festival headliners since Muse. ‘Pressure’ stomps like Queens Of The Stone Age, ‘Had Enough’ comes on like a 100-foot high Bay City Rollers, and, during the epic closing brass blast of ‘Happy Birthday Jane’, somewhere in north London the owners of Wembley Stadium instinctively find themselves signing them over the deeds.
Behind them the railway board clatters through the tour dates, pausing briefly at ‘Newcastle’ for a cheer they’ll hear on Saturn. But The Enemy’s final destination? This service terminates at Big League Central. All aboard.