In the band’s NME cover feature, published earlier this month, Blossoms drummer Joe Donovan promised that their Reading & Leeds shows would be “massive”. By the time they wrap up their packed gig at the NME/Radio One Stage, they’ve only done half the job – Leeds is to come the following day – but the energy they beamed out would be enough for two stellar gigs.
As the rest of the electro-pop five-piece take their places, frontman Tom Ogden strides onto the stage in a natty white blazer, announcing, “Thank you, Reading Festival, we are Blossoms from Stockport.” The distinction from nearby Manchester seems to be key – you’ll rarely read a Blossoms interview that doesn’t pinpoint their exact georgraphic origin – but they’ve certainly cornered the knack for choruses achieved by famous bands from the capital of the North. As if to underline the idea, Blossoms open with the swaggering ‘At Most A Kiss’.
At one point, Ogden asks if anyone here has been dumped lately. It turns out that Martha, a teenage girl in the audience, hasn’t been dumped, but she did recently chuck a bloke called Jamie. Ogden, brandishing his acoustic guitar unaccompanied by the band, dedicates the pensive ‘My Favourite Room’ to the parted lovers, working in both of their names. It’s a bit end-of-the-pier, but certainly succeeds in connecting with the audience, who sing along with every word.
From here, Ogden segues into an acoustic strumalong of the chorus from Sheffield group Babybird’s 1996 hit ‘You’re Gorgeous’, before tipping a hat to Blossoms’ geographical semi-lineage with a bit of Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’. If that sounds a little basic – well, it probably is, but like the Martha/Jamie gimmick, it works, briefly transforming the tent into a late-night karaoke bar (read: the best place ever). Booming single ‘Getaway’ has the crowd clapping in unison, while a victory lap of the chorus from ‘Blows’ is stripped down to percussion and a marching, undulating bassline while the audience provides the vocals.
Introducing the final song of the set, Ogden invites the entire crowd to sit down on the grass and jump up for 2015’s buoyant, earworm single ‘Charlemagne’. It’s a well-worn trick – see Slipknot and The Streets – but, as elsewhere in this crowd-pleasing set, it proves there’s nothing like pulling out a few golden oldies to give a festival audience the time of their lives.