The clock strikes midnight, the lights drop, and right on schedule Tom Ogden struts up to the mic and addresses his congregation – “I’ve been told to tell you, any flares or pyros going off, we have to go off and won’t be allowed back on”. A strange warning in a seated 1300 capacity theatre? Not really – you could sense that it was that kind of night, and incidentally, every one of those 1300 seats were redundant.
For the last eighteen months or so, five lads from Stockport have been crafting a bonfire, by drip-feeding singles and EPs, as well as drumming up followers through the festival circuit and high profile support slots with The Libertines and The Stone Roses. Tonight they would light the fuse as they launch their debut self-titled album at the sold-out Stockport Plaza (or as its sometimes known, PLAZ, or even P AZA, depending on which bright red letters are lit up for the A6 traffic to see).
Just a few hundred yards down the road from their namesake pub, Blossoms kick off with album opener and fan favourite EP track Charlemagne, and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was all old hat for these boys. Ogden owns the stage with a confidence many frontmen don’t find until two or three albums into their career, as they present the album track by track, in its entirety. With that, it is an album in the traditional sense, rather than twelve tracks thrown together. The punch of the opening number segues smoothly through festival ballad Getaway towards the stripped-down Onto Her Bed, which sees Ogden alone on stage with just a piano for company.
Of course, comparisons have been drawn to all the usual Manchester bands, as well as (album producer James Skelly’s) The Coral, but Blossoms have said they want to break the braces of genre, and hope to sound like, well, Blossoms. Their strength is that on the whole, they seem to be achieving this with a sound that stands on its own.
It’s a unique event not just for timing, but the detail has been planned meticulously to make this a memorable show. As the dinner jacket-donned pianist fills the interval with instrumental versions of what might be the Radio X playlist (including Viola Beach’s Boys That Sing- nice touch), the audience peruse over lyrics in the retro theatre-style programmes left on their seats.
In a streaming age where the status of the ‘album’ format has been questioned by some, tonight was reassuring. Blossoms have done a splendid job over the year in drawing the anticipation amongst the loyal followers, and many of these followers were rewarded tonight with an album experience.
People still speak of The Stone Roses at Empress Ballroom, Oasis at Maine Road, or Arctic Monkeys at The Grapes. There’s a feeling that tonight will be looked back on as one of those ‘I was there’ occasions.