NME Awards Tour
Leeds O2 Academy 30/03/17
Simon Saynor – freelancepeanut.blogspot.com
As a callow youth I thought I was too cool for support bands. That changed sometime in the ‘90s when I discovered that the band I missed out on supporting Inspiral Carpets was a fledgling Oasis, going under the moniker Rain. Now sometimes it just can’t be helped. I was at a wedding yesterday which meant by the time we got to the O2 we’d already missed Rory Wynne.
Cabbage have been on my must see list for some time but despite my promises to myself I always keep missing them. I did manage to catch 5 minutes of them once supporting Blossoms at The Leadmill. This time I was determined to catch the full set.
As we queued to get in I could hear the thumping of the magnificent post-punk anti-war mayhem that is Uber Capitalist Death Trade. We missed 10 minutes of a half hour set which is definitely a marked improvement on previous attempts. I’m sure it’s been said many times but Cabbage are a Marmite band. I don’t know anyone who on hearing them have just said, ‘Yeah, they’re OK.’ It’s love or hate time. But even to the haters I would say they are a must see band. Whatever your tastes you don’t forget a Cabbage gig. I’m firmly planted in the love camp. They have deceptively heart rending melodies – it’s just that they come at you at a face-melting 120mph with barked lyrics that define the state of the world way better than any sour faced media mogul wants you to know about.
Cabbage from their stage attire to their blistering live attack give the impression of not caring over much. The lyrics say otherwise. ‘I was born in the NHS, I wanna die in the NHS’ should be everyone’s mantra. They’ll probably hate this but Cabbage are a class act.
Stockport has never really figured much on my radar. I saw Doncaster Rovers win promotion at Stockport County’s Edgeley Park on a Monday night in May 1984. A few years ago coming home from Manchester I ended up on a replacement bus service that took me to Stockport and decided to leave me there. That was the limit of my dealings with Stockport until Blossoms stuck their collective heads above the parapets.
It would seem that in recent years ‘radio friendly’ has become an insult. I have no idea why that is. And whereas Cabbage are gloriously non-radio friendly Blossoms are gloriously radio friendly. Their eponymously titled number one debut album is filled with gorgeous guitar laden indie pop with tips of the hat to Marr, New Order and even the Pet Shop Boys. Pop, as well as radio friendly, are no bad things.
From the off the band, and in particular singer Tom Ogden, have the heaving O2 crowd in the palms of their hands. It’s a definite up for it crowd and Blossoms have come to deliver. No histrionics on stage. Bono used to climb speaker stacks to get a reaction, Tom just tilts his head and asks after our wellbeing. As is to be expected the 16 song set contains virtually all of the album. (Only Onto Her Bed is missing – more of that later). At Most A Kiss opens the set, Texia, Blow and then personal favourite Getaway – an anthem to sleeping with your ex. We’ve all done it. ‘I’m over you, get under me. This is the last time, don’t say it’s the last time’ is both equally crushing and uplifting.
We get alternative album tracks and B-Sides. Blown Rose is an epic song even if you do end up witnessing a mainly student crowd celebrating ‘the stately homes of England’. Tom slows things down with My Favourite Room. Stood alone on stage with his acoustic guitar, looking totally unflustered despite the O2 now being a ceiling dripping sweatbox. “This is for everyone who’s ever been dumped.” The song ends up being for crowd member Ellie with her dumper, Nathan, cast as the villain of the piece. It’s almost the antithesis of Cabbage – a gorgeous melody disguising a heart broken, bereft lyric. It’s an almighty singalong with Tom showing off his immaculate stagecraft. The song ends. We get the first chord and line of Babybird’s, You’re Gorgeous. Tom doesn’t have to do anymore. The crowd have got this. Every single one of them lapping it up. We get the odd chord and line just to keep us straight. Oasis’ Half The World Away gets the same treatment and even Wham!’s Last Christmas. (I saw Springsteen sing Santa Clause Is Coming To Town in May last year. This worked so much better).
The band return for the 4 song encore with naturally Charlemagne being the show closer. It couldn’t be anything else really although on a personal note I would love to see Blossoms return and give us a real low key ending with Onto Her Bed. I think that would be perfect.
It’s hard to look at the last 18 months of the band’s career and not use the word Blossoming. No doubt the band will have a majestic festival season. It’s all fully deserved. The test will come with trying to follow up the debut album. Having seen the band several times now and witnessing the adoration they receive from sell out crowds I have every faith in Stockport’s finest.