Sunday 11 December 2022

Blossoms - Manchester Apollo - 10th December 2022

The third night of Blossoms' four gig residency at the Apollo in Manchester always threatened to be overshadowed by the World Cup quarter final between England and France. However, the band lifted the deflated spirits of the audience with an hour and a half set of infectious, glorious songs that lifted the spirits and provided the communion that music provides that nothing else can.

If the crowd has any hangover from the match they're quickly dispelled as the Apollo bounces in unison to the soaring uplifting synth intro to At Most A Kiss and hardly stops until the end. Blossoms skip between albums seamlessly. Everything About You, the standout track on this year's Ribbon Around The Bomb, nestles sweetly alongside Blown Rose, possibly the greatest song to come out of Greater Manchester in the 2010s, sit next to each other early in the set like the perfect bedfellows and are testament to how the themes behind Blossoms songs have shifted from painful heartbreak to unashamed love as they approach their tenth anniversary as a band. 

Their ear for a tune is still the same though. Where bands often lean back heavily on their debut, the four Blossoms albums get pretty much equal billing and the set very much has the feel of a perfect greatest hits album with even the obligatory new song Big Word both maintaining the high water level of the rest of the set yet showing that Blossoms are evolving their sound rather than revolutionising it. You know what you're getting, but it'll never disappoint. 

The close bond between the five of them is very much in evidence too. Tom, once a nervous almost reticent front man, struts the stage with an assured manner now, heading back to the riser to stand facing his brother-in-law Joe on drums, kneeling down and grabbing Josh's leg, standing back to back with Charlie in a rock star pose and encouraging Miles to "slide it" during Ribbon Around The Bomb's euphoric first single Care For.

The main part of the set rushes past faster than the last twelve minutes of the football as they move through the trio of I Can't Stand It, If You Think This Is Real Life and How Long Will This Last from Cool Like You before stripping down their debut's Getaway and Tom tells the story behind Your Girlfriend which finishes with Tom holding the mic to Josh's lap steel.

Much like the deflated euphoria after Harry Kane's penalty miss, tonight's guest doesn't live up to the heightened expectations generated by Liam Fray's appearance the night before. We reckon half the people around us had no idea who Miles Kane was and some simply weren't impressed. They run through a cover of Paperback Writer that's OK, but it's by some distance the low point of the night simply because Blossoms' own songs are so euphoric and there's plenty of them that didn't make the cut in a ninety-minute set. 

If it dampened the atmosphere then My Swimming Brain picks it right back up. Blossoms make these beautiful shiny pop songs seem so effortless but each one feels individually crafted rather than mass-produced for public consumption. They don't just play them straight now, taking the song down at the end and then departing the stage arms round each other's shoulders leaving just Tom alone at the piano. He stands, picks up the acoustic guitar and delivers My Favourite Room, a vulnerable song of heartbreak that everyone in the room can relate to in some way before conducting the audience in snippets of You're Gorgeous, Half The World Away and Last Christmas.

The band return for a two-song encore of There's A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) and Charlemagne that turns the sloped floors of the Apollo into a heaving mass of bodies with Tom demanding a circle pit opens for the final chorus of Charlemagne after he's introduced the band. One day they'll have to move it from the end of the set, but for now it feels like the perfect finale.

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

They played At Most A Kiss, Honey Sweet, Oh No (I Think I'm In Love), The Keeper, Everything About You, Blown Rose, Ode To NYC, The Sulking Poet, Care For, I Can't Stand It, If You Think This Is Real Life, How Long Will This Last, Getaway, Your Girlfriend, Big Word, Paperback Writer, My Swimming Brain, My Favourite Room, There's A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) and Charlemagne.

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