If any band has quietly gone about becoming a bloody big deal, it’s Blossoms.
Ever since the tidal wave of hype that came with their debut album – the rapturous festival fields and the countless accolades – their position at the top tier of indie’s elite hasn’t been shoved down your throat but collectively celebrated. They’re the beloved lads who you’re likely to bump into at the pub, trading stories and laughing in the face of the world, and it’s that connection that has made them a force. Backed with a rich and evolving catalogue that has built over three ‘blossoming’ studio albums (sorry – Ed), their return to the live stage may be the perfect embodiment of all the emotions of being back in the sweaty halls and grand stages.
Nearly 18 months on from previous full-length ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’, a night that would have been a celebration of that album has now become a much bigger statement. It shows from the very first note. ‘Your Girlfriend’ followed by the one-two punch of ‘There’s a Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’ and ‘I Can’t Stand It’ sets the tone. Tom Ogden, embracing that role as a master of ceremonies, struts and commands in a way that would have seemed an outlandish request but a few years ago. Tonight he leads Stockport’s finest through a thrilling set that refuses to relent. Favourites such as ‘Blown Rose’ and ‘Cut Me And I’ll Bleed’ are given new leases of life – as if they’ve been waiting for this moment. It feels like a grand master plan, only now coming to fruition.
Cuts like ‘If You Think This Is Real Life’, ‘Sunday Was A Friend Of Mine’ and ‘Falling For Someone’ are met with bouncing bodies and drowned out singalongs just as much as ‘Getaway’ and ‘At Most A Miss’. It’s a musical jukebox that feels like an extension of the party, one of those moments that makes you forget everything that came before in the best possible way.
What takes them to other leagues is their unabashed love and prowess at golden era pop. If the pre-show playlist of Girls Aloud and ‘Sweet Caroline’ didn’t give it away, their bubbling mix of classic influences is nothing but euphoric. By the time Tom stands alone on stage for an acoustic interlude, the crowd are putty in his hands. ‘My Favourite Room’ segues into versions of ‘You’re Gorgeous’ and ‘Half The World Away’ – the latter seeing him play one note on the second chorus before walking off to leave a packed Forum billowing the rest of the words in appreciation.
A costume change and a bountiful version of latest single ‘Care For’ writes their future out in mesmerising lights. Delightfully sweet, its vintage tinge points to how Blossoms were always more Beatles or ABBA than any early comparisons to Arctic Monkeys. As ‘Charlemagne’ rings out to a deafening response, it’s clear that they sit in a league of their own.
Tonight is a confirmation that Blossoms – in their own way – might already be one of the defining bands of this era. Taking what came before and moulding it into something new – don’t ask when the takeover is coming; it’s already here.
There’s a Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)
I Can’t Stand It
My Swimming Brain
Cut Me and I’ll Bleed
Sunday Was a Friend of Mine
If You Think This Is Real Life
Falling for Someone
My Favourite Room
Oh No (I Think I’m in Love)
At Most a Kiss