I’d heard Blossoms before but I’d never listened to their music in detail. Before heading to the show, I decided to check out their recent No1 album alongside a few videos on t’internet. Not bad. Kind of what you’d expect to hear if an 80’s Fleetwood Mac tour bus crashed into Kasabian’s on a drizzly stretch of the M1.
Hailing from Stockport, Manchester and billed as ‘indie pop’, Blossoms have entered into a dauntingly vapid, yet commercially proven genre. With the Rainy City giving birth to some of the UK’s most popular acts over the years including Oasis, The Happy Mondays, and post-punkers like Joy Division, the success of indie music has always relied on its simple and melodic nature, as to appeal to masses. Arriving at the venue I wasn’t surprised to notice swathes of today’s youth (and some of their older fellow fans) were selling out the O2 Forum Kentish Town in classic fashion.
Upon lead guitarist and vocalist Tom Ogden appearing about 10 mins late, to a crowd harmoniously chanting ‘Stockport’, the music kicked off. Of course the first three songs were in near darkness. With the intermittent and quite frankly, epilepsy including lighting, I was indeed glad I wasn’t photographing.
What was most amazing was the fact that pretty much every audience member there was singing every lyric to every song. It’s worth noting at this point that since the release of their debut single ‘Blow’ in 2014, which is on their debut 2016 album, eight out of 12 tracks off the album have been released as singles – ‘Charlemagne’ being the only one to make it into the UK Top 100 Singles Chart. At No 98. Their touring and eventual performance at Glastonbury earlier this year helped widen the fan base in time for the album release and this gig certainly proved that. Surprisingly not a single cover was included in the set, as is so frequently done to keep fans engaged these days. With no need for such folly, this audience was clearly there to hear the band’s catalogue.
Unable to forget the cringe-worthy intermission involving the band leaving Ogden on stage, alone with an acoustic guitar, asking if anyone’s been dumped recently, asking for the name of the ex, screaming ‘I F**KING HATE HER’ then singing a ballad about the two ex-lover fans. The crowd laughed as the show went on..
With ‘Charlemagne’ played as their final song of the set, it’s a song that sums up Blossoms pretty well. A track that draws recollections of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tango in the Night’ era; shallow lyrics with clichéd rhyming patterns, this is most definitely pop music – albeit under a veil of indie synth rock. Their opening track ‘At Most A Kiss’ offered the odd tasty lick; great riffs, tone and structure, as did other tracks with deep-cutting guitar solos like ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’ or modestly arpeggiated synth work like in ‘Getaway’.
For a indie synth-pop band, they were pretty much what you’d expect – simple music played well. The rhythms, melodies and textures helped build the atmosphere and maintain pace. With plenty of audience participation, the crowd loved the set and sang along all night.
Given that Blossoms were the only guitar-based rock band to feature on BBC’s ‘Sound of 2016’ list, their eponymous long-playing debut in August has somewhat appeared to save a seemingly dated branch of rock music from its perceived near-death state and returned it to its rightful place atop the charts.
Words by Ed Jacobs