Blossoms + support Touts | Review
Limelight, Belfast • Wednesday 08 March ’17
By Kaity Hall • Photography: Tremaine Gregg
Fourth place winners on the BBC Sound of 2016, Blossoms are the new boys on the block for the UK’s Indie music scene. The Stockport quintet aren’t doing too badly for themselves either; they’ve only been about since 2013 but their eponymous debut album gained the top spot on the UK Albums Chart back in August 2016.
The answer to that Arctic Monkeys-shaped hole in your life, Blossoms have an Indie/Alternative sound that ties together aspects of Brit-pop and a rather unexpected but wholly pleasant dashing of New Order-esque synth.
Kicking the evening off however was an accent closer to home in the form of Touts. Hailing from the maiden city, Derry-Londonderry, the fresh-faced punk trio packed a lot into their half hour set.
Filled with expletives and careless mumblings in a thick Northern Irish accent, Touts have an authentic punk sound that is wholly refreshing to hear.
Picking up the gauntlet from Ulster’s punk veterans Stiff Little Fingers and (also Derry originating) Undertones, there is no denying the strong influence of Ulster’s punk history of the 70’s in their music.
However, performing their songs ‘Bombscare’ and ‘Political People’ written about the refugee crisis and closing their show with a quick cover of ‘Gloria, Touts aren’t just scraping the surface of their punk sound. Rather, they’re finding their own place within a music scene that definitely has room for a new band, and honouring their musical inspirations while they’re at it.
An upcoming EP on the cards, the launch is happening on 29 April in Derry-Londonderry’s Anne Street Events Centre where you can catch them playing and pick up a copy.
There’s a bit of a jarring difference between the screeching guitar riffs of Touts and the mellow, synth infused delights of Blossoms. Without preamble, the quintet wordlessly took to the stage and jumped into ‘At Most a Kiss’.
While elements of Blossoms sound can be found similar to the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Stokes, Oasis, New Order and Depeche Mode, it’s difficult to find a band or artist you can definitively match their sound with. In this sense they have found themselves an interesting, very unique niche of Indie/Alternative meets the influence of 80’s synth, which they have made work very well.
Belfast’s Limelight is a relatively intimate venue but with Blossoms’ sharp rise to fame you were given the sense that this is a band who are well on their way to bigger things in the forseeable future.
“Don’t be fooled by her lipstick gaze. Veils of cool shelter time she strayed.” sings frontman Tom Ogden in their second song ‘Texia’. The similarities between Ogden’s smooth, vocal prowess and that of Alex Turner circa-2011 (think “Suck it and See”) are very clear in this song more than any other.
Ogden stalks up and down the stage in a pair of cream flares. He seems as though he can’t really be bothered. His pseudo-rock star nonchalance works in his favour and just makes the entire long-haired quintet seem very edgy and very cool. As the audience screams along to the incredibly catchy chorus of ‘Blow’ you have to wonder is there still an element of surprise beneath the un-phased veneer of this band who were pretty much catapulted into fame.
Interspersing a B-side selection from their Extended Tracks album, this isn’t a gig dedicated to the big hits and their debut album only. The band evidently have a faith in their audience to appreciate their lesser known songs.
A particular highlight from their extended tracks would have to be ‘Across the Moor’. Odgen sets his guitar to the side and dances lazily to this mellow track with a simplistic yet nonetheless catchy reliance on keyboard and percussion.
While ‘Across the Moor’ is bold in how far it veers away from their heavy emphasis on guitar in their catalogue, this track has an emphasis on their penchant for synth and brings a bit of variance to a guitar heavy gig.
Up until this point there has been next to no audience interaction. This is rectified as Ogden lets us know things are about to be slowed down a bit. “Has anyone in the crowd been recently dumped?” he asks and a great deal of shouting ensues.
Pointing to a girl named Orla in the front row we find out she’s been dumped twice in one week. The boisterous crowd is overexcited by the previously lacking interaction from the band and is shushed as they start into slow number ‘My Favourite Room.” A catchy, acoustic song it evolves into a rendition of ‘Because You’re Gorgeous’ by Babybird, perhaps throwing a nod towards their Britpop influences.
Of course, the moment the crowd has been waiting for is saved for their final song. With a subtle smirk between Ogden and bassist Josh Dewhurst, the band launch into their biggest hit thus far, ‘Charlemagne’ much the audience’s incredible excitement.
One thing to take away from their set is that Belfast are big fans of Blossoms. There wasn’t one song that the audience wasn’t engaged. A testament to the quality of the band’s music and the talent apparent in their live performance.