Words by Lucy Mounfield / Pics by Rob Hadley
The show started with Rory ‘this song’s all about how good I am’ Wynne’s brand of indie rock. Wynne’s persona is charming, in an arrogant sort of way, like a budget Mick Jagger.
The only issue being I don’t think he’s got sufficient calibre of music behind him for it to work; he talks the talk, but at this point I don’t think he quite walks the walk. Although his set was fun and the crowd (albeit a bit thin on the ground) enjoyed it.
Next up were Cabbage, a wholly different story. Fronted by Lee Broadbent, heroically hobbling around with an injured pelvis (I initially thought the funny walk was part of the act) prowling about chewing the scenery and spewing beer everywhere.
Additional vocals and fronting duties came from Joe Martin (also on guitar) who was leaping about the place and tearing himself out of his shirt as if it were a straight jacket. Cabbage stole the show here, opening with the ferocious ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’ and barely letting up the intensity until their set was, regrettably, over.
Cabbage perform a high-energy post-punk with lyrical content drawing in equal parts on the political and the absurd. Alongside Broadbent and Martin, Cabbage are completed by Eoghan Clifford on guitar, Stephen Evans on bass, and Asa Morley on drums.
The aforementioned ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’ is a breakneck speed punk anthem with a righteous ‘three chords and the truth’ approach, while subsequent tracks slowed things down and brought in more keyboards, played by Broadbent. Another stand out track was ‘Dinner Lady’, played towards the end of their set, with Martin’s rap-punk slur reminiscent of Joe Strummer. This left Blossoms with a hard act to follow, since their more down-tempo sound never quite reaches the same intensity. It felt a bit like the climax of tonight’s show was in the middle.
Finally, after some interlude recorded music (which people were inexplicably singing along to), Blossoms came onto the stage. The O2 Academy main room was absolutely packed by this point; a huge crowd had turned out. Blossoms began with ‘Honey Sweet’ – the fourth track of their new LP, which was, like most of their tracks, a synth heavy mid-tempo affair with lots of chugging along on the guitars, topped off with Tom Ogden’s distinctive vocals. Charlie Salt’s bass is prominent and rather good on the funkier tracks like ‘Blow’, which Blossoms played towards the middle of their set.
Towards the end we had the acoustic ‘My Favourite Room’, along with some audience interaction – an intimate moment with Ogden alone on the stage, proving his abilities as a front man who can command and engage with an audience even in larger venues. However this section of the set ended with a medley of various cheesy songs (‘Last Christmas’?) which felt incongruous and like karaoke night down the pub. The audience loved it.
‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’ is one of the more interesting songs on Blossoms‘ debut/eponymous album, but played live it lost its psychedelic keyboard section under the wall of guitar and bass – although this might possibly have been the fault of the venue. Blossoms create a wall of sound composed out of the textures of the synths, guitars and bass; on record one can pick out the details, but live at the O2 Academy everything was a little too muddy for me. Cabbage were less susceptible to this, their sound more stripped down and in your face.
‘Charlemagne’ was the last track played, but the intensity produced by ‘Deep Grass’ (the second to last) was not followed through by such a well-known song. I particularly liked the jam section at the end of ‘Deep Grass’, it felt rhythmically interesting and you got the sense the band were enjoying themselves.
Interestingly, in terms of their music, Blossoms bear little or no resemblance to those mighty Mancunian bands to whom they have been compared: The Stone Roses and Oasis. Instead they came across as a kind of clean cut ‘mum friendly’ band performing a solid sort of indie rock. I feel the better moments were when they embraced the bassier, funkier aspects of their sound and they seemed to riff off one another – however these were the bits that seemed to bore the rest of the audience.
All in all, a good night. Blossoms, the main act, were certainly giving their fans a great time. But for me they were upstaged by the supporting act, Cabbage, whose frantic performance left little room to up the ante.
For more on Blossoms, visit www.blossomsband.co.uk
For more on Cabbage, visit www.ahcabbage.bandcamp.com
For more on Rory Wynne, visit www.rorywynne.co.uk
For more on the NME Awards Tour 2017, visit www.nme.com/awards/tour
For more from the O2 Academy, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham
For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs and Tours, visit www.gigsandtours.com