Apollo, Manchester, 11/5/2018
published: 29 /
Writer Shirley Procter and photographer Amanda J Window watch acclaimed local band Blossoms play an euphoric homecoming gig to an enthusiastic crowd at the Apollo in Manchester
I’m sitting on the balcony in Row B at the Apollo, Manchester, waiting for the Blossoms to come on stage, listening to the crowd singing along to the backing tracks playing. With the crowd are in great voice already, the lights go down, the spotlights on stage come on, and the Human League’s ‘Don't You Want Me?’ plays over the sound system. With everyone singing along the spotlights turn on the crowd, and the Blossoms come on stage to roars of approval. Opening with ‘There’s A Reason Why (I Never Return Your Calls)’, the lighting is amazing, the audience up, dancing and singing along with the band.
The song ends, the crowd roar their approval, and it's straight on to ‘Unfaithful’. I love the sound of the keyboards. The crowd claps along with the song. It's weird to have such a cheery sounding song about someone cheating in a relationship! The lights have switched from white to blue spotlights, and as the song ends, amidst the cheers from the crowd, the lights flash yellow.
‘I Can’t Stand It’ comes next and the crowd recognize it immediately from the opening bars and sing along. Lead singer Tom Ogden switches from electric to acoustic guitar as the pulsating pink and yellow lights are mixed with blue spotlights.
Tom’s announcement, "Good evening Manchester, we are Blossoms from Stockport. We’re going to play our next song now; it's called ‘Blow"’, sees the entire venue including the balcony to rise to their feet as the man sat next to me plays left-handed air guitar.
The band stops singing, and the crowd take over! As soon as ‘Blow’ ends the band start up with ‘Honey Sweet’ provoking another venue-wide sing-a-long before segueing straight into ‘Cool Like You’, superb showcases of their melodic and lyrical strength. In his strong Stockport accent Tom addresses the audience, "How are we this evening, everyone? You’re in wonderful spirits; it’s lovely, simply lovely to be here!"
The opening of ‘Stranger Still’ starts and yet again everyone sings along as Tom disposes of his guitar to concentrate on singing. The drums are stronger in this song, playing a very distinctive bass rhythm as tub-thumper Joe Donovan uses pom-pom sticks. Bassist Charlie Salt scores a round of applause at the end of the song as a camera operator on stage records the set.
As the lighting changes to a pure white the opening bars of ‘I Just Imagined You’ start up. Switching back to acoustic guitar Tom delivers ‘Blown Rose’, clearly a favourite of the crowd as keys player Myles works on two keyboards at the same time.
Switching to the next song ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’ is instantly recognized, followed by a driving version of the pretty ‘Between the Eyes’, backed by a strident bass line, great guitar riffs, and strong solo. An enquiry of "Still with us, Manchester?" from Tom has the crowd roaring back its approval. Following a round of applause for lead guitarist Josh Dewhurst, the band immediately launch into ‘How Long Will This Last?’
With an announcement of "We're going to slow down for the first time this evening Manchester’, Tom is back on the acoustic guitar; for a beautiful ‘Love Talk’, a much slower tempo song than the previous ones. As the rest of the band leaves the stage, there’s just Tom left, playing ‘My Favourite Room’ on the acoustic, with the crowd singing the chorus, as he tackles the verses. There’s a slight pause, then he plays a few lines of Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’, Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ and Oasis B-side ‘Half the World Away’.
With the band offstage and the roadies preparing for the encore the crowd begin the "Oh, Jeremy Corbyn" chant to the refrain of tT=he White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. Kicking off the encore ‘At Most A Kiss’ sees drummer Joe, slowly joined by Myles then Josh, Charlie and Tom.
Next up is ‘Getaway’ with almost everyone on the balcony up and dancing, as well as everyone downstairs. Charlie has a swift guitar change, and Tom calls for a round of applause for the keyboardist Myles, saying, "Myles is a legend; Myles is a bellend No, of course he’s not! We’ve always wanted to headline here at the Apollo, thank you! Have you got one more in you?"’
The finale of course if 'Charlemagne', which if the band hadn’t played it might have caused a riot, the response causing the balcony to bounce, which is slightly unnerving. A fantastic local band done good with a huge following, Blossoms have a beautiful live sound, simply put.
Words: Shirley Procter
Photographs: Amanda J Window