Saturday 10 December 2022

Blossoms - Manchester Apollo - 9th December 2022

Blossoms' run of four consecutive sold out nights at Manchester Apollo continued on Friday with a hit-laden ninety minute set of crowd favourites from across their four albums and featured a guest appearance from Liam Fray of Courteeners.

Much to the chagrin of those who decry Blossoms for not being cool enough while still flogging the same old dead horses they've always ridden, their star is continuing to rise as this sold-out set of dates across the country confirms. Five-star reviews across the board and sold out signs months in advance are heralding their step-up into the festival headliner league from the perennial main supports and undercards. Over an hour and a half on a Friday night they show an adoring crowd exactly why - and no disrespect to Liam Fray who makes a guest appearance to perform two Courteeners songs with Tom, his presence is simply the icing on the cake rather than the main event.

Blossoms in 2022 are a well-oiled slick machine. They now have such an artillery of singalong anthems that the set never once feels like it's taking a lull, yet they don't simply reel them off. They've thought about presentation, adding subtle little parts that show off their musicianship without diluting the simple power and connection of the songs. Tom Ogden has developed into a confident strident front man whilst still showing the vulnerability that most of the lads in the crowd wish they were brave enough to be able to put out there whilst melting the hearts of teenagers and mums alike and everyone else in between. He also makes sure, both in his movements around the stage to his friends and bandmates and the extended introductions during the final song Charlemagne that the band is the star here. The guest appearance is nice but does feel like it detracts from that a little.

Right back to their early days of playing all the small venues around town, another thing their detractors conveniently forget, that bond meant they were always much more than the sum of their parts and that holds true today as much as it ever did. The percussion and backing vocals of John Simm and Colette Williams and Ryan Ellis's additional guitars flesh it out still more vividly. The setlist reads like an established greatest hits set. This means there's less of Ribbon Around The Bomb, a number one album earlier this year it shouldn't be forgotten, than the hardcore fan base would like - Everything About You, Ribbon Around The Bomb and Born Wild in particular would slip effortlessly into this setlist, but it's testament to the strength of their catalogue that they don't appear. A new song Big Word, true to Blossoms DNA but with a stomping electronic feel to it, suggests that album five isn't going to take the foot off the pedal and even more difficult setlist decisions will be imminent.

Blossoms' magic is in the way they fuse classic songwriting, wrap their influences around it and then stamp their own personalities over the top of it. It's a theme that runs through these songs - whether it be the glorious soaring Blown Rose or Getaway from their debut, the euphoric There's A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) and I Can't Stand It from Cool Like You, the perfect indie-pop crossover of The Keeper and Your Girlfriend from Foolish Loving Spaces or Ribbon Around The Bomb's ear worms The Sulking Poet and Care For. It allows the crowd to drop their inhibitions, forget about the shit going on outside for ninety minutes and lose themselves in a celebration.  From eighteen to sixty these songs connect with the room and three and half thousand people become one. 

Blossoms played At Most A Kiss, Honey Sweet, Oh No (I Think I'm In Love), The Keeper, 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, My Swimming Brain, My Favourite Room, Please Don't, Not Nineteen Forever, There's A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) and Charlemagne.

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