Blossoms live in London: indie heroes get up close and personal with virtual reality gig

December 3, O2 Academy Brixton: the VR isn't much cop, but Tom Ogden and the lads are on sparkling form (and chuck in a couple of Christmas songs)

10 months into the pandemic, the nerve-racking novelty of virtual gigs has worn off. It’s doable, often enjoyable, but musicians and fans alike are no longer fizzing with excitement at the prospect of reaching out to one another behind a screen. Indie-pop heroes Blossoms know this, and they waltz into their first gig in nine months, at London’s O2 Academy Brixton, with a sense of laidback confidence.

“I just took off my shoes because I feel like the carpet’s asking for it,” frontman Tom Ogden says after the first three songs. You can see why: it’s a cosy set-up, all five lads from Stockport – as well as three touring musicians – are facing one another in a circle, fairy lights tracing the stage with orange table lamps dotted around the room. Bass player Charlie Salt says he is “just relaxed, yeah”, while lead guitarist Josh Dewhurst is enjoying a cup of herbal tea in a polka-dot mug.

We’re afforded this level of detail because the gig is being broadcast with a virtual reality option; despite the novelty, there must be a little less adrenaline without thousands of faces in front of you. Still, the hour-long setlist is tight and familiar, with no unnecessary gaps between all the big hits. The slow-burning ‘Getaway’ is performed with a great sense of ease, while the glacial ‘Honey Sweet’ is at its swaggering best.

It’s a highlight to hear the band’s two new Christmas songs, ‘Christmas Eve’ and ‘It’s Going To Be A Cold Winter’, live for the first time. Lights turn from orange to green back to red and Christmas trees, framing the stage, make the place feel like home. ‘Oh No’ boasts the glorious warmth that defined the band’s disco-inflected album ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’, and ‘At Most A Kiss’ is a rousing delight.

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The virtual reality option, on the other hand, is a mixed affair. If you download the Melody VR app, you can switch between six different camera angles and spin on a 360-degree axis in your living room to experience the whole thing. It’s a good idea in theory, but frustrating in practice: your phone screen, or iPad of whichever size, is never going to be as wide or immersive as, well, your eyes, and such technological strain might actually just make your stream buffer, meaning you miss ‘Charlemagne’ entirely.

Still, this isn’t Blossoms’ fault – they’re on terrific form and grateful to be back, while seemingly aware that there’s no beating the real thing. “I enjoyed that more than I thought I would,” Ogden concludes. There’s certainly enjoyment to be found here – and more incentive than ever to look forward to a proper return next year.

Credit: press

Blossoms played:

‘Blown Rose’

‘The Keeper’

‘Your Girlfriend’
‘There’s a Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’
‘I Can’t Stand It’
‘Getaway’
‘My Swimming Brain’
‘Sunday Was A Friend of Mine’
‘If You Think This Is Real Life’
‘Honey Sweet’
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‘Christmas Eve’

‘It’s Going To Be A Cold Winter’

‘Blow’
‘Like Gravity’
‘Falling for Someone’

‘Oh No (I Think I’m in Love)’

‘At Most a Kiss’

‘Charlemagne’

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