As part of the NME Awards Tour, Blossoms made their way to our very own Lemon Grove. The tour is held by NME in the run up to the awards show, generally featuring indie/rock artists who are just starting out on the music scene – Arctic Monkeys headlined back in 2006, whilst Franz Ferdinand opened in 2004. It was a sold out gig and, unusually, the room was packed in time for the first support act. Rory Wynne, undoubtedly an act who appealed to Blossoms no least because of his Stockport roots, swaggered on stage confidently. He played a solid set of songs, with his infectious excitement getting the audience ready for the night ahead. He was a great support act and fitted the indie/pop/rock bill perfectly.
Things went downhill, however, when CABBAGE took the stage. Describing their music as an “idiosyncratic, satirical attack in the form of discordant neo post-punk”. Evidence? Click here. They were entirely different to both Rory Wynne and Blossoms. I found them intimidating (which I guess is their aim), and found myself willing them to get off of the stage as soon as possible. I’ve since read great reviews of them online, so maybe people who are into that style of music would have enjoyed their show. Throughout the performance, they ripped off their shirts, grabbed their crotches, threw beer across the audience and then began to spit on everyone – not really my kind of thing, but it looked like some people were into it.
After what felt like the longest performance ever by CABBAGE, Kanye West’s Black Skinhead began to play. Blossoms took to the stage and smoothly took the reins from West, transitioning into their set- opener At Most A Kiss. The Lemmy stage was moodily backlit, and the atmosphere almost electric. Straight away it was clear that the audience were loving the show, singing and dancing along to the Stockport-grown five-piece. The band played exceptionally well, sounding almost better than they do on the record. There is an added vulnerability to lead singer Tom Ogden’s voice in a live setting, and the 80s pop influence flourishes when the audience are all dancing along together. Despite their moody façade, something now typical of the indie-pop genre, the band were loving the night. Ogden took the time to pause between a few songs to interact with the audience, talking about Stockport and how great the crowd was.
The set-list for the night featured nearly all of the tracks off of their self-titled debut album, with the added addition of a couple of B-sides and a few selections from the extended edition of that same album. It was obvious that these extra tracks are not as well known amongst the audience, but the band did a good job in ordering the set list and maintaining the excited mood. Crowd pleasers Honey Sweet and Cut Me And I’ll Bleed received a huge reaction, with some, mostly drunk, people attempting to start a mosh pit.
One highlight from the night was Ogden’s solo acoustic performance of My Favourite Room. The rest of the band cleared the stage, whilst their lead pointed into the audience and asked “Has anyone been dumped recently?”. He picked a girl out from the audience and encouraged us all to boo her ex, before leading into the song. Ogden impressively manipulated My Favourite Room, finishing the song by beginning a cover of Half the World Away by Oasis – an apt choice considering the heavy influence the band have clearly had on this track. Confusion instilled as Half the World Away became Last Christmas, a cover which could have been fun but instead fell slightly flat in the middle of March.
The crowd went even more mad as Blossoms’ biggest track, Charlemagne, played at the end of the night. The band performed it seamlessly, unfazed by the carnage they were causing amongst the audience. After the track ended, they were done – no cliché encore here, despite the cheers they received. It was an incredible experience seeing one of the biggest names of the indie music scene perform at our very own Lemon Grove. Considering the band were due to play London’s Roundhouse the night after, I’m left wondering whether that was the first and the last time we’ll see them here in Exeter. If they do decide to come back, make sure you don’t miss out.
Photo credit: The VLM.