Review: Blossoms at The Riverside

Blossoms exploded over the summer with their ‘Radio-1 friendly’ breakout hit Charlemagne and eponymous debut album, the latter of which was met with widespread critical and commercial acclaim. They were also on BBC’s Sound of New Music list for 2016, and I thus came into the gig with high expectations.


It has often been said to me that without a good crowd, an excellent gig simply cannot take place. Never has this been more obvious to me – I stood in the fourth row of Newcastle’s Riverside amidst the multitude of fifteen and sixteen year olds accompanied by their mothers. However, the crowd cannot take all of the blame, the performance of Blossoms and their support bands lacked both charisma and energy, crowd interaction was minimal. Such a lacklustre performance was a great disappointment from the Stockport four-piece.


The evenings events got off to a terrible start. The first support act came in the form of Cabbage, a five-piece from Manchester, who were described by the Guardian’s Paul Lester as having a “penchant for juvenilia” and “Manchester’s most exciting new band”. However, Cabbage seemed content to make some inaudible noises whilst wearing tracksuits and chugging down cans of Fosters. Furthermore, the lead singer spent their whole set, which seemed to drag for an eternity, with his hand firmly clasping his genitals. Cabbage are certainty a band who I shall not be investigating any further. That being said, slight redemption was achieved, as their set was closed with a witty number about Donald Trump.


The second support, Declan McKenna and his backing band were a slight improvement but still the Riverside stood still, supping their vastly overpriced beers. Whilst the music was good, with ‘The Kid Don’t Wanna Come Home’ being a personal highlight, Declan in his Winnie the Pooh t-shirt lacked the ‘wow factor’ and stage presence to entertain. That being said, at the tender age of seventeen and with a solo tour to come with the turn of year, such criticisms can be improved upon.


Finally, at 9:30 sharp, Blossom decided to grace their stage with their presence. Entering amidst a blur of white light to Kanye West’s ‘Black skinhead’, the sold old Riverside venue began to stir. Sadly, everything went downhill from there. The show was opened with single ‘At Most A Kiss’, which would have sounded out of place during the mid-80s. This was rapidly followed by ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed and Blow’, passing without major event before the lights and keyboard gave an extra-terrestrial vibe to ‘Smashed Pianos’. Blossoms then proceeded to rattle through the rest of their album like a chore. A brief pause in the mechanical performance facilitated the discovery that a gentleman in the crowd called Caleb was recently been dumped by Lisa. Naturally lead singer Tom Ogden proclaimed “f*** Lisa”, and dedicated ‘Blown Rose’ to his heartbroken gentleman. After a bizarre acoustic mash-up of Babybird’s ‘Your Gorgeous’ and Oasis’ ‘Half the World Away’, one question came to mind. When were Blossoms going to get on with it, play Charlemagne and allow everyone to leave early. After ‘Across the Moor’ and teasing with the ‘Deep Grass’, which awakened the realisation that all Blossoms song start in exactly the same way, the crowd were given what the vast majority had come solely to hear, Charlemagne. Sadly, it was underwhelming, with the depressed atmosphere of the previous few hours, not even this radio-friendly jingle could save the evening.


To conclude, in many cases a poor gig can be attributed to a lacklustre crowd. Whilst, the crowd and its demographics, with this evening what I can only assume were many of its members’ first gig, Blossoms and their support bands must take some of the blame. The Stockport band’s performance at times seemed mechanical. With little enthusiasm for their music or the crowd paying for the pleasure of listening, the quality and sheer enjoyment of this show fell well short of my anticipations. This being said, Blossoms do have a fantastic album under their belt alongside performance at many notable festivals on the circuit, including Glastonbury. The only trajectory available at this moment is an upwards one. Hopefully, in the future we will see that vast strides have been made and Blossoms can fulfil their early promise which has propelled them into the limelight. And perhaps they should be given the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes bands have a bad day, something doesn’t click, the venue isn’t quite right, the crowd isn’t quite right. Blossoms remain a fledgling band, the talent is there and their blossoming is certainly inevitable.


2/10 – thoroughly disappointing, but optimistic for improvement.

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