Sunday 9 July 2017

Blossoms / The Coral / Rory Wynne / Touts - Manchester Castlefield Bowl - 8th July 2017

There has always been a sense of inevitability in the last three years that Blossoms' path would this summer lead them to Castlefield Bowl. Having supported both James and The Charlatans here in previous years and a year on from their number one debut album, it's a fitting way to bring to a close the first phase of their journey to be mentioned in the same breath as those aforementioned legends of the local music scene.

The whole line-up is of the highest quality though. Derry's Touts open up proceedings, a gloriously punk in your face three piece with songs that smash you around the face and still leave you coming up smiling. Saturday Night Scumbags, Bomb Scare, their debut single Sold Out and the fabulously bluntly titled Go Fuck Yourself hardly stick around for a couple of minutes, such is the short sharp shock effect of their tunes, but they don't look or sound out of place on a stage that's by far the biggest they'll have played on so far.

Next up is fellow Stopfordian Rory Wynne is next up and delivers a set that's as assured and confident as we've seen him before. He plays all four songs from that stunning What Would Rory Wynne Do EP that he dropped earlier this year with a swagger and a cocksure rock and roll confidence driven by his belief that one day this stage will be his at the top of the bill. Gone are the spiky jagged edges of the likes of Post-Party Confusion and Why Don't You and in are the boy/girl will they / won't they stories as Tell Me and In The Dark and the "you are the second greatest thing in the universe after me" arrogance of After Me and a final track Picture This which suggests that he's about to, if you pardon the pun, blossom himself into the hearts and playlists of the nation's youth.

The Coral are the perfect early evening band. Beautiful sun-drenched psychedelic-tinged anthems are their forte and from the likes of early songs Simon Diamond and In The Morning through to Holy Revelation and Chasing The Tail Of The Dream from last year's glorious comeback Distance Inbetween. The crowd love them too, both young and old joining together to sing along that guitar part in In The Morning and jumping around like heat-stricken fools to their set-closing Dreaming Of You.

This is Blossoms' time though. Still the same five mates from Stockport, always willing to stop and have a chat, supporting the local scene from which they emerged by going to gigs when they're back in town, you sense that if it was another band up there, they'd be in amongst us having the best time too. And from the opening bars of At Most A Kiss through the closing sudden stop of Charlemagne, that's exactly what 8,000 of us do.

It isn't just about the big singles with Blossoms though, in the true tradition of great Manchester bands, the album tracks and the b-sides all reach the same standards and are as loved as the songs that have made them darlings of radio programmers across the land. They're backed with a string section for parts of the show tonight to add even more light and shade to these songs, particularly when they cover Oasis's Whatever as part of the encore.

From the flares that somehow evaded the security and which fill the arena with smoke to the guy who gets on his friend's shoulders naked, there's a celebratory atmosphere throughout. Everyone knows every single word to these songs, tattooed as they are on the psyche of the city and its environs from which they hail. "Good evening town, we are Blossoms from Stockport" Tom proclaims at the start of the second song Texia to a deafening response. They're a band that has captured the hearts and minds of this city more than any new band has done for in the last decade and at this rate of progression they'll be talked about alongside some of the very biggest greats we've ever produced.

What makes Blossoms so magical is a simple formula. They take bits from all the best parts of their parents' and their own record collections and fuse them into something that is uniquely them. Tom has developed into a confident front man, but one that's also humble and still a little taken aback by the response they illicit from the crowd and not afraid to mix things up - adding in snippets of For Evelyn, Half The World Away and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out on to the end of the acoustic solo My Favourite Room, which is bellowed back with a force that meant you could probably hear it back at The Blossoms pub in Stockport from where they got their name and a brief part of The Beatles on the end of Deep Grass.

They've not forgotten their roots either - "this one is for anyone who was at the Blue Cat" is his introduction to their first single You Pulled A Gun On Me, referring to four heady nights at the now defunct and sadly missed venue in Heaton Mersey back in 2014 when all their latent potential was just about to be unleashed on us.

For a band with just one album under their belt, the setlist is impressive as it's fleshed out with some of those wonderful b-sides that lesser bands would kill for as their main single. Across The Moor, Polka Dot Bones and Smoke are the sort of songs that could launch a band's career, but none of them even made the debut album, whilst their recent Chase And Status collaboration This Is The Moment works equally well as a live band track.

When they finish with Charlemagne, the place goes wild. It's a song that will go down as the city's anthem of this decade so far (we say that in case they come up with a Wonderwall / Don't Look Back In Anger moment on album two). Like all the very best bands from this corner of the world though, they make a connection with their fans and they straddle demographics and bring people together in communal celebration. They'd been preceded on this stage by Arcade Fire and James the previous two nights, two of the biggest and most celebrated bands around, and Blossoms did not pale in comparison to either of them.

This was Blossoms coming of age.

Blossoms played At Most A Kiss, Texia, Getaway, Blow, Smashed Pianos, Across The Moor, You Pulled A Gun On Me, Honey Sweet, This Is The Moment, Polka Dot Bones, Blown Rose, My Favourite Room (with snippets of For Evelyn, Half The World Away and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out), Cut Me And I'll Bleed, Smoke, Deep Grass, Whatever and Charlemagne.

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

The Coral's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Rory Wynne's official site can be found here and he is on Facebook and Twitter.

Touts are on Facebook and Twitter.

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