I‘m just going to put it out there: I liked Blossoms before they were cool. Admittedly, it was just a few months before they were cool — I discovered them while stumbling around Spotify in my never-ending quest for a new band to adore — but it’s still worth remembering.
After all, they haven’t even been on the circuit for very long, having formed just a few years ago in 2013. Back then, this fledgling five-piece saved cash by rehearsing in a scaffolding yard in their hometown of Stockport, but they quickly found traction in the rock-loving suburbs of Madchester, releasing their first single in January 2014.
Back then, this fledgling five-piece saved cash by rehearsing in a scaffolding yard in their hometown of Stockport
2016 was indisputably their year; although they only got round to releasing their (chart-topping) debut album in August, by then they had already made countless festival appearances, and they’d received widespread adoration on the airwaves.
Fast forward to 2017, and Blossoms are in Exeter, gracing the sold-out Lemon Grove for the NME Awards Tour: a long-lasting celebration of music which boasts an illustrious legacy of outstanding acts, including The Killers, The Maccabees and, of course, Arctic Monkeys.
With their opening line of “Hello… Lincoln? Hello… Sheffield?”, at first I’m fooled into thinking that support act Cabbage are simply funny guys; by the time the singer is taking his shirt off and spitting into the crowd, however, I’ve realised they’re just a bit arrogant.
Although their music isn’t something I’d normally listen to, it’s captivating live, and it gets better throughout their act; the build-up in ‘Fickle’ is especially scintillating, and the lyrics are entertaining too: “Well I’m the ficklest f*cker in town / No f*cker is more fickle around”. ‘Necroflat in the Palace’ is a solid highlight, with the tingling bass moving the plastic cup in my hand, but nonetheless I’m relieved when it’s time for them to make way.
The introduction of Blossoms is almost comically epic: with glorious lighting and dramatic music heralding their entrance onto the stage, I’m not sure whether this is either another traditionally-cocky indie-rock band, or else a group who simply know how to have a bit of fun; when they cover Oasis’ ‘Half the World Away’ and Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ later on, you start to realise that perhaps it’s a bit of both.
Funky crowdpleaser ‘At Most a Kiss’ opens proceedings, and some especially die-hard fans quickly filter to the surface, bouncing front-and-centre at the feet of lead singer Tom Ogden. The band’s creativity is plain to see from the very beginning, as this first song fades into ‘Texia’ through a brief ABBA riff, and this skillful blurring continues as they merge from the brash twangs of ‘Blow’ to the slick beats of ‘Getaway’. Ogden does pause to chat to the crowd too, showing genuine charm. This is further evident when he slows things down for the acoustic melodies of ‘My Favourite Room’. “Has anyone been dumped recently?” he asks the audience, and, when ‘Millie’ screams out in confirmation, he cheekily pops her name into the lyrics: “With youuuu,” he serinades, “you make it so real”.
Although they only have one album to work with, there are a few new tracks littered throughout the set, like bouncy B-side ‘Across the Moor’, and the more powerful ‘Madeleine’ which successfully riles fans up thanks to a beastly guitar solo.
I hardly recognise ‘Smashed Pianos’ as it creeps into the room; it’s probably my least favourite track on the album, perhaps due to the muffled uncanniness of the recording, but the tune bursts with psychedelic colour when performed live, and the sharp syllables of “crash like smashed pianos” pulsate through the crowd.
It’s worth saying that the show’s lights really are a force to be reckoned with; at the start of the night, when I squeezed uncomfortably into the back of the Lemon Grove, it was impossible to ignore Blossoms’ monstrous tech setup, but when you see the stage drizzled in a wealth of amber for single ‘Honey Sweet’ (a tribute to Exeposé Music?), it’s clear to see why.
…It was impossible to ignore Blossoms’ monstrous tech setup
Similarly, when they re-enter for their encore, the epic lights are back in force: for a moment, I think I’m awaiting Robbie Williams’ arrival at Wembley, before I snap back into reality.
Suddenly, the gig’s nearly over, and there’s only time for one final flourish; to the delight of the (cute) mosh pit, Blossoms close with their number one single, ‘Charlemagne’. Even my disgust at seeing a fan filming the entire show on Facebook Live doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the evening.
As I leave the Lemon Grove with a smile on my face, I notice with surprise how mild the weather is — it’s been a while since I’ve been able to saunter home after a night out — and I realise that it’s March 21st, the official start of spring. Really, I should have noticed; after all, the Blossoms are well and truly blooming.