20 Oct 2016

Blossoms/Cabbage @ Cambridge Junction (live review)

It’s 5pm and I am positioned directly in front of the double doors to Cambridge Junction in a way that clearly states ‘I am first in line. Do not even dare try and come before me. I arrived here precisely two hours before for a reason’. Why Imogen, are you sat at a venue two hours before the doors open, I hear you ask. Well, I am here to attend Stockport five-piece Blossoms’ gig on the current leg of the UK tour in support of their recent eponymous debut album. My early arrival is also slightly to do with the fact that I’d like to position myself on the barrier directly in front of frontman/dreamboat Tom Ogden, so as to allow myself plenty of opportunity to also fall head over heels in love with him. As if the damage hadn’t already been done. I am enjoying my position on the floor. The line lengthens rapidly as groups of boys and girls wearing, predictably, Doc Martens, their faces smeared with glitter, giggling happily as they clutch their tickets, eagerly await 7pm. I try to suppress the nagging feeling of thinking I need a wee.

Soon enough, the first support act of the evening trounce on stage. For a group calling themselves The Shimmer Band, they are appropriately dressed in an array of sparkly jackets and oversized sunglasses. Their keyboard player (who I could swear was Kevin Parker) has gone all out, donning a gold glitter bomber as he dances manically up and down behind a glitter encrusted keyboard. The rest of the group provide an intriguing mix of distorted sound effects and rather generic, but nonetheless feel-good and fun, indie rock. The frontman drawls out his words in an indistinguishable accent between songs, adding to the potent air of mystery, enhanced by the fact he keeps on the dark sunglasses for their entire set.

The next band up are perhaps less conventional, their stage presence a little more controversial. Cabbage storm on, not before their mate with a Carlings box on his head attempts an introduction - something about politics and vegetables, to which a few drunken gig-goers laugh. They have that archetypal indie boyband look: long messy hair, leather jackets, Doc Martens and a rowdy attitude. It’s not until I see that one of the frontmen (for there’s two) who initially seemed intriguing, is incredibly rude to the sound team before they start to play, that I begin to realise this band doesn’t ooze that well behaved, boyish, humble charm that bands like Blossoms and their contemporaries like Catfish and the Bottlemen pull off so convincingly. Cabbage claim to be a Marmite band (there’s a joke in there somewhere). Chucking mic stands in the crowd, wiping snot down their trouser legs, licking each other’s necks and ramming their hands down each other’s crotches, the live experience they provide is certainly not for everyone. Whilst I applaud their arrogance, their bravado, for it’s certainly exciting, and I’m throwing my body about and screaming along as the whole crowd replies to some comment about ‘Our man Jeremy Corbyn’, it's not always something I appreciate from a band who should be, essentially, luring me in. Cabbage are exciting, surreal, self-assured. But supporting a modest and squeaky clean band like Blossoms, I want something a little more mellow.

Absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram to pass those last few minutes before headliner time, an all too familiar beat appears as the lights die away. Kanye West’s ‘Black Skinhead’ is playing full blast and the crowd are in uproar. I am suddenly throwing myself against the barrier, headbanging, screaming, my hands in the air as Blossoms jog onto the stage, gliding smoothly into the unapologetically 80s At Most a Kiss. Ogden’s vocals sound sleek and effortless over the infectious coalescence of drums, bass and keyboards.

As the night progresses I find myself falling ever more in love with Blossoms. Everything from the euphoric chorus of Smashed Pianos being belted out by hundreds of sweaty bodies, the freeing feeling of singing along to every word of Getaway, or Ogden changing the lyrics in My Favourite Room to ‘Sophie’ and ‘Julia’, a couple in the crowd who had recently broken up (to which he protests ‘so why did you come to a gig with her? That’s well 2016 that’) is nothing short of pure and honest fun. I decide, at 10:30, after the final bar of Charlemagne fades away and the crowd begins to disperse, that this might have been one of my favourite gigs of all time. 

After almost breaking a rib attempting to grab a setlist, I stumble round to the back of the venue where Tom and Myles come over to chat. My friend is wearing a Spice Girls t-shirt to which Tom notes ‘I love the Spice Girls; 2 Become 1 is my favourite tune’, before breaking out in his own rendition. As he sings (beautifully might I add) I need some love like I never needed love before a voice comes out of my mouth which replies I wanna make love to you baby. Tom laughs, but I can’t believe what I have just done. I have just had a Spice Girls duet with Tom Ogden of Blossoms round the back of Cambridge Junction. With the electronic pounding still reverberating through my ears, I am ecstatic all the way home.

Blossoms continue their UK tour in November/December, with support from INHEAVEN and Georgie. 

Words: Imogen Carter de Jong