Tuesday 13 December 2022

Blossoms / Brooke Combe - Manchester Apollo - 11th December 2022

Blossoms completed their sold-out four-night residency at Manchester Apollo and their twenty-three date sold out UK and Ireland tour on Sunday night with a hit-packed set that included a special guest appearance by Rick Astley who performed four classics from The Smiths to reprise their shows earlier in the year. Support came from the impressive Brooke Combe who stunned an already packed audience with her showstopping voice.

We'd missed parts of Brooke's set on Friday and Saturday because of queues and the football but were determined not to miss one of the UK's rising stars complete the tour. Her soulful rich deep voice is a revelation even in front of a crowd that weren't familiar with her beforehand - the roars of appreciation at the end of each song grew to the point of almost overwhelming at the end. Her band provide the canvas for her to let loose across her previously released singles - Miss Me Now, A Game and Are You With Me? - and even more impressive future singles that suggest that we'll be hearing a lot more of her in 2023.

Blossoms are on a real roll as they approach their tenth year as a band. Selling out four nights in this historic building where they saw many of their heroes in their formative years is a big statement but also a natural progression. They've developed from the scrawny kids with promise who'd done the hard work around each and every small venue in this city into a fully-fledged arena and festival headliner without ever losing their roots as testified by the way they all went outside afterwards, leaving their family and friends in their after show celebration, to talk to, sign items and bodies and take pictures with their fans. They're a credit to Stockport, to Greater Manchester, to their families, to those who've supported them and anyone begrudging them their success looks more bitter, twisted and stupid with every passing supposed insult.

Tonight is a glorious end-of-term celebration. Nothing can go wrong. Even when Tom mistakenly says Josh is the bass player in the band introductions during Charlemagne, the worst thing that can happen is everyone lost in a fit of giggles, he bangs the mic stand with his guitar during My Favourite Room, shrugs his shoulders and says "that's showbiz" and he theatrically drops his cape that he dons at the start of the main set and encore like some Stopfordian superhero. They're super-tight musically without it ever sounding like running through the motions. Songs have been adapted, adjusted, tweaked, even across the four nights in the strive for perfection that has served them so well as they've risen to the top. The lights aren't overpowering, but they're strong and add to the whole show and everyone plays a part in the magic.

The guest appearance is something that they'll hopefully not feel the need for going forward, emboldened by the success of this tour and elevated status. Rick Astley is a special guest in the truest sense of the word though, and like the band looks like he's living his best life as they run through covers of four Smiths classics - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now, This Charming Man and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. Rick is a true pop star yet never makes it all about him, sliding into the background behind percussionists John and Colette at the end when the band are taking the roars of appreciation as they're introduced individually. The magic in this collaboration, like in Blossoms' own songs, is the simple connection they make, the ability to express things you've experienced yourself in a way you can't find the words to and set to music that makes you want to throw off your inhibitions and lose yourself in it.

Those songs are writing themselves large in this phase of Greater Manchester's music legacy. From debut album tracks Blown Rose and Charlemagne through There's A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls), The Keeper, Your Girlfriend and Care For and even new track Big Word, these songs mean something to the young (and Blossoms crowd is predominantly but not exclusively young), soundtracking their lives, their trials and tribulations in the way the city's greats have over the years. The sneering cynics might cock their nose at that, but they're not in the room here as the crowd explode to the opening bars of each and every one of these songs as if it means the world to them.

Blossoms merge pop, rock, indie and lots more. They judiciously and unashamedly borrow influences and intertwine them creating huge hooks that pick up anyone with an open mind within hearing range and lift them. These four nights have been a celebration of that, a band that started in the grassroots that are under threat from developers and the indifference of those in power who are only interested in the bright and shiny, a guitar band when guitars are going out of fashion in the corridors of power, a band to fall in love with and to. 

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

They play Manchester Castlefield Bowl (July 6 supported by Inspiral Carpets) and Leeds Millenium Square (July 8). Tickets are on sale at 9am Thursday December 15.

Brooke Combe is on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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