Before the release date for sophomore album ‘Cool Like You’ was revealed, a humorous teaser mockumentary posed the question: ‘Where Are Blossoms?’. But performing amid the art-deco surroundings of their local theatre, the homecoming heroes leave no doubt about precisely where they are. The merch stand flogs ‘I Heart Stockport’-emblazoned T-shirts, while their walk-on music is ‘Stockport’ by Frankie Vaughn (‘I’m going back to Stockport…there’s nowhere that can beat it’). Only Samson-haired frontman Tom Ogden seems to deviate from the geographical love-in by wearing a New York top – and regrettably, bassist Charlie Salt doesn’t turn up in a full Stockport County FC bear mascot costume.
Given how the Greater Manchester town has previously reacted to the band’s success – the train station information boards memorably ran updates on the release of their Mercury-nominated debut in 2016 – the opening night of their tour (and the first of three home dates) has more potential for mayhem than putting Kanye West on the Question Time panel.
In front of flashing neon strips, they open with the giddy synth-rush kiss-off of ‘There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’, and the civic pride is justified. Bristling with hooks, cascading melodies and adhesive choruses, tracks from ‘Cool Like You’, which charted at number four today, achieve the trick of sounding both new and instantly familiar: ‘Unfaithful’ borrows some of Blondie’s Midas bleach while the wistful ‘80s dive-time disco-shimmer of ‘I Can’t Stand It’ practically demands a light-up dancefloor, and the jubilant title track is the closest they come to fulfilling their earlier pledge that the new material would sound like ‘Kylie meets New Order’. Their recent Rowetta-assisted Radio 1 Live Lounge cover of The Killers’ ‘The Man’ may have already signalled the intention, but – heralded by a dramatic opening – ‘Between The Eyes’ shows Blossoms have their sights set on snatching Brandon Flowers pink lamé jacket as the go-to anthemic indie-disco festival band; while the best new cut, the ecstatic ‘Lying Again’, is powered by drummer Joe Donovan’s Motown stomp.
The older songs are home-runs: midway through the fervid ‘Blow’, Ogden holds the microphone out, ceding vocal duties to the communal choir. It’s not the only time he leads a frenzied sing-along. Alone, for the acoustic ‘My Favourite Room’, he marshals campfire renditions of Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’, Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ and a predictably deafening ‘Half The World Away’ by Oasis – that could probably have been heard by Noel Gallagher who’s playing seven miles down the road at the Manchester Arena. After praising the “rowdy” throng they sign off with a raucous ‘At Most A Kiss’, ‘Getaway’ and the bulletproof electro-baggy of ‘Charlemagne’, proving Frankie Vaughn’s earlier lyric true: tonight, there’s nowhere that can beat Stockport.
There’s a Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)
I Can’t Stand It
Cool Like You
I Just Imagined You
Cut Me and I’ll Bleed
Between the Eyes
How Long Will This Last?
My Favourite Room
At Most A Kiss