Monday, 8 August 2016

Blossoms / Dantevilles - Manchester Gorilla - 7th August 2016


As part of the celebrations of the release of their self-titled debut album, Blossoms booked two shows at Manchester Gorilla to play the new record to their fans. Tickets sold out in seconds as they did for the Academy show next month, and the venue witnessed two packed to the rafters sweaty shows that probably bade farewell to venues of the this size given the ever increasing fanbase they're collecting. Support came from Manchester's own Dantevilles, who are making their claim to be the next of the city's bands to break through.

Dantevilles' two sets confirm them as a band on the rise. We've seen them four times over the course of the last week and they seem to be getting better with every performance. The confidence that comes with succeeding on these bigger stages and the sight of people moshing along to them who've never heard them before as well as the championing of them by Blossoms has given them that belief in themselves that bands need. But the reality is that this comes down solely to the quality of the songs that they perform and how they deliver them. They manage to sound both distinctive and familiar at the same time, which is no mean feat for a band still in its formative stages, but there's a real feel-good fluidity and rhythm to what they do and they look like they're having the best times of their life up there too.

They play seven songs that already feel like old friends. They close with It Might Be Tomorrow and at the evening gig the whole of Gorilla is clapping along to it arms raised above their heads. It's one of those songs that you know will make a difference in the corridors of power in the music business yet also make a connection to the young and not-so-young punters that are the ones that will make a band sink or swim. It's a very high point in a set full of highs. Sea Of Change and Perfect Place in particular have that timeless appeal to them that will see music fans of all ages warm to them, as those early singles did for tonight's headliners. Their most important week so far has been an absolute triumph and with Radio 1 play in the bag already, it looks like this is only the start.

The afternoon Blossoms set is more subdued than what's to come in the evening, but that's probably an unfair barometer to measure it against. They play the album in full, but not in order, avoiding the issue of starting with Charlemagne which is undoubtedly their most popular to date. That honour falls to Cut Me And I'll Bleed after the boys come on to stage to a crowd warmed up by Manchester classics from Oasis, The Stone Roses and Joy Division. You have to wonder one day whether Blossoms will belong on that level as all the indicators so far suggest they may well do.

The opening trio of Cut Me, At Most A Kiss and Getaway set the scene. Gorilla, notorious for average sound, has no such issues today, everything sounds beautifully crisp, detailed and rich and the lights and smoke feel like they belong in a hall ten times the size of this but create the perfect backdrop for everyone other than photographers. Those three songs show what gives Blossoms their universal appeal, immediate, infectious hooks that you'll struggle to forget once they've attached themselves to you, melodies to die for and an innate understanding of both pop and rock music throughout the years.

The newer songs stand tall and proud too. Texia is a beast of a song, propelled along by Myles and Charlie whilst Blown Rose feels as wistful as ever but bolder and sturdier live than on record. My Favourite Room is stripped back to just Tom, although he does acquire 600 backing singers for most of the song and the segue into a couple of lines of You're Gorgeous and Half The World Away. It does get lost for a few minutes then as the keyboards are set up for a beautiful rendition of Onto Her Bed, but the delay breaks the momentum slightly and allows those that only know the singles so far to strike up conversations they finish during the song. It's a shame the space didn't allow for the keyboards to be set up in advance as the song still deserves a place in the set.

Smashed Pianos feels like it's going to become a fan favourite, both from the responses Tom gets when he asks, but also the way it kicks the front rows back into live after the relative lull mid-set. Honey Sweet's bitter tale of seeing an ex with someone else hits similar highs before Blow and Deep Grass bring the set to a close with two pieces that hint at the darker, more psychedelic side of Blossoms' work, evident in some of those b-sides that will go down in legend alongside those of other classic Manchester bands, and a reminder that this band isn't just about big bright pop singles. The brightest though, Charlemagne, sends the six hundred or so back out into the bright lights, either back into the queue for the evening or the surrounding bars for refreshment.

Gorilla hasn't cooled down any by the time we return and it feels even more packed and expectant after Dantevilles have delivered their stuff. What we get from Blossoms is a set that wipes away any lingering doubts that they are not going to be filling the likes of Castlefield Bowl next summer and Manchester Arena in the winter. We've watched them grow from the likes of Sound Control, Night And Day, The Ruby Lounge and The Blue Cat to where they are and, whilst we might lose that intimacy that they've managed to keep so far, it's with a sense of pride that we know the world is at their feet now and the next twelve months are going to be more and more of the hard work they've put in to get this far and more.

They've mixed the setlist up for the second show, having the same feeling about Onto Her Bed as we did and replacing it with Across The Moor, one of the standout tracks of those early EPs. That means that Blow is moved to the start of the set and it's a winning move as it sets the crowd down the front off immediately, singing along to the first riff and those first few rows never stop bouncing throughout. As the crowd sing the final chorus back to them, that menacing opening rumble to At Most A Kiss, the moment before that huge unforgettable keyboard line kicks in, starts up and Gorilla is reducing to one heaving mass.

Getaway has its moments where Tom's almost drowned out by having the words sung back to him with a ferocity we've not witnessed at any of their previous shows. As Texia's big bold electronic storm subsides, Tom stops a guy called Ross being kicked out by security because "he's cool."

There's some regional rivalry at parts with both cries of "Stockport we love you" and "Manchester, la, la, la" being bellowed, not sung, at different times in the set and Tom asking who was born in Stepping Hill hospital. It's a completely celebratory feel though, a whole load of love in the room. Tom tries to coax some "wise words" out of Myles, but his only retort is "you're here, that's enough isn't it" which is a fair point because this feels like the exact moment that Blossoms go supernova and this gig will be talked about for years and thousands will claim to have been here. If you think that's a superlative and over the top, then you weren't there.

Blown Rose merely confirms everything we've said so far, that this feels like a night of triumph, of confirmation, of passing to a world that's bigger and much much brighter. Across The Moor is introduced as a b-side, but the way the audience sing back the instrumental opening section shows that, in the tradition of the truly great Manchester bands, there is no such thing as a b-side and Blossoms are resurrecting an old tradition with those EPs and songs like this that would grace any band's albums including their own. It also allows us to hear more of Charlie's backing vocals - a real integral and often overlooked part of Blossoms' sound - something that Tom acknowledges by pointing his mic towards him at one point.

Tom hardly has to sing any of My Favourite Room which he jokes is "helpful as I've got loads of gigs coming up" after dedicating it to a girl called Molly in the front row who'd be recently dumped. He laughs that people have been listening to the album, but he better get used to it as he'll have far bigger crowds than this singing every word back.

Cut Me And I'll Bleed brings the seething mass back almost to the sound desk, but what's already noticeable, two days in after its release, is the response the "new" songs are getting. Even Tom's taken aback, mouthing an obscenity of surprise as the crowd take the first verse of Honey Sweet from him and make it our own. That slightly awkward phase where the new songs mix with those that made them their name has been ridiculously short and these feel like old favourites already with the crowd hanging on every word.

There's a random moment where someone asks Tom when the cassette is going to come, he apologises and tells us he doesn't deliver them personally, but uses it as an excuse to tell a story about Myles speeding the wrong way around a roundabout on a 50cc moped and getting fifteen points on his licence.

Deep Grass is enough in itself to dispel any arguments from the haters that Blossoms are somehow not a real band and the inevitable backlash that will come their way because a band has made it out of the local scene and will be hated for doing so by those who claim the scene has no voice. Its dark psychedelic groove and the stunning guitar solo from Josh is a world away from the singles that made their name, but without sounding like a completely different band.

There's only one way to finish the evening and it's a gloriously loose Charlemagne and Gorilla loses its collective marbles as strobes pierce the boiling atmosphere, the guitars soar for the clouds and everyone bounces away as if it's the last time they'll ever get chance to dance.

The second show tonight felt like the end of an era, the last time we'll get this up close and personal with Blossoms and see the whites of their eyes as they take on the biggest halls of the UK and beyond. It was the absolutely perfect send off though, a band that just gets better when you think they can't, balancing the demands they now face for success from the business with the desire to stay real and true to themselves, their music and their family and friends.  They started the band as five friends, have worked their arses off for three years and deserve everything that's happening to them right now and they're still supporting the scene that they came from.

Blossoms' official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Dantevilles are on FacebookTwitter and Soundcloud.

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