Blossoms, Brighton Dome (23/03/2017)

Blossoms played the Brighton Dome on the 23rd March 2017, as part of the 2017 NME Awards Tour, supported by Stockport’s Rory Wynne and the (in)famously outspoken Cabbage. The band played a brilliant set featuring songs off of their self-titled debut album and rereleased extended edition.

The band walked on stage- all dressed in white shirts- to a roar of applause. Blossoms don’t disappoint, as they continually prove by playing to huge audiences both nationally and internationally. The band opened with ‘At Most a Kiss’, from their debut album Blossoms, which was released last summer. This was a good opener because the audience knew it. The audience particularly enjoyed hearing songs from their debut album and sang along word for word, whilst dancing (with the odd mosh-pit… No, I’m not sure how you mosh to Blossoms). The atmosphere was buzzing. They played most of the songs from their debut album- including the single ‘Honey Sweet’, ‘Get Away’ and ‘Blown Rose’- as well as some b-sides.

Of course, no Blossoms performance would be complete without “slowing it down” for the acoustic ‘My Favourite Room’, whereby Tom Ogden (lead single) asks if anyone has┬á“been dumped” recently and dedicates the song to them. The first time I saw them do this was at Reading Festival and I can’t listen to the song without imagining “me, Martha and Jamie in my favourite room” (not me, but Ogden), then again at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, with yet another estranged couple. You’d have thought the novelty would’ve worn off by now and yet I find myself eagerly awaiting Ogden’s search for his next heartbroken teen. Then you have the ending of the song, which, again, I find myself waiting for. ‘My Favourite Room’ leads seamlessly into Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’, then into Oasis’s ‘Half the World Away’ and- weirdly- Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, which the audience loved.

Late last year Blossoms (“from Stockport”) re-released their debut album with a sparkly, gold “extended edition” featuring all the b-sides from their previous EPs, hence why they’ve gone on tour again. The band played a handful of these tracks- including ‘Across the Moore’, ‘Polka Dot Bones’ and ‘Madeleine’. This proved a treat for those who had been following them from the beginning, which seems like a long time ago now. It’s exciting getting to hear these songs played again as the band’s sets get longer.

“ABBA won the Eurovision song contest in this very building” Ogden said when the band came on to perform a short encore. The band ended with ┬á‘Deep Grass’ and then ‘Charlemagne’. A man kept asking me whether or not they’d played ‘Charlemagne’ yet, it’s become their ‘big’ song. There’s something undeniably catchy and anthemic, especially live. I love the added “Joe looks like Jon Snow” bits that you only get when you hear it live.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Blossoms multiple times over the last year (and lucky enough to see them grow and become more popular) and they’ve never disappointed. Yes, the setlist has been more or less the same (give or take the odd b-side) each time I’ve seen them, no, that’s not a bad thing. The band continue to gain popularity and each time they play they play to bigger sold-out audiences of loyal and new fans. Their production gets bigger everytime, too. More lights. They continue to give class, memorable performances and they clearly now how to put on a good show. They’re dedicated, hard working and clearly love what they’re doing.

The band play Coachella in April (and tour the states) and they’re set to play a whole host of UK festivals this year, including Reading and Leeds and Glastonbury Festival.

 

Blossoms, Brighton Dome (23/03/2017)

Catfish and the Bottlemen- The Brighton Dome, 12/04/2016

 

On the 12th April 2016 Catfish and the Bottlemen played to a lucky 1860 (or so) person crowd at The Brighton Dome, as part of short, sold out UK┬átour. They were supported by┬áthe brilliant Brighton based┬áband┬áBlack Honey (who were on my “ones to look out for in 2016” list back in January).

Back in February, Catfish and the Bottlemen announced five UK tour dates (followed by a series of other, mostly singular, drip fed dates) covering the nooks and crannies of some of the UK’s strangest, most obscure and arguably most beautiful and under appreciated, areas and venues. The tickets unsurprisingly sold out within minutes, with many questioning whether or not they actually went on sale in the first place due to the extortionate touting on many second hand ticketing sites minutes after release (although they’ve vowed against such actions by starting to opt for using a balloting system for ticket sales). Shortly following this there was an announcement of the release of a new album, called “The Ride”.

As always, there’s something so fascinating about Catfish concerts. The atmosphere is always so electric that it’s almost buzzing and I think half of that comes from the reception by the audience of all the hugely anthemic songs. This is something that runs throughout and even engages and encapsulates the seated audience too (it it seemingly and increasingly unusual to see nearly all the seated audience standing) . This also continued throughout the lesser known, new songs that they played- like “Anything” and “Red” from the new album.

Of course the band played most of the songs from their formidable debut album, “The Balcony”. From opener “Homesick”- which always gets a huge, warm reception, especially during the extended part of the song at the end which they often add in live- to “Cocoon” and “Pacifier”. McCann’s (lead singer) effortless ‘coolness’ intertwined with the band’s obvious gratitude is somewhat admirable and exemplary of what a good front man should be like, especially when the actual stage set up is so simple (I especially loved the moving camera which seemed to orbit Bob Hall’s (drummer) drum kit).

They played “Soundcheck” and “7” from “The Ride” too. Both of these are singles from the new album, with “Soundcheck” being the first release from back in February and “7” being their newest single. They played “7” during their tour back in November, but the crowd seemed more familiar with it this time (despite not actually being released until fairly recently). I love how the newer material is sounding and shaping up so far. Hopefully “The Ride” will be just as incredible as 2014’s “The Balcony” and we’ll continue to see Catfish flourish as a band like they have done for the last few years.

The band, of course, closed with “Tyrants”. “Tyrants” is simply something else live. You can’t quite describe it. The whole audience hangs off of it as the last song (there’s never an encore for a Catfish show) and I love how it just sums up and rounds off the end. There’s often dancing, arm waving and even the occasional mosh pit when it drops. You’re bound to leave with a few bruises, especially after this song.

As for the venue itself, The Brighton Dome is brilliant. I saw Wolf Alice play there a few weeks prior to seeing Catfish and I’ve once stood and once sat in the venue. The sound carries so well in both seated and standing, so you can enjoy it wherever you are- plus there’s a good view of the stage from pretty much everywhere. The venue feels intimate enough for it to feel special and almost exclusive and I felt that especially at the Catfish gig. I hope Catfish don’t lose this intimacy as they continue to get bigger.

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a band capable of effortlessly playing huge venues- arenas even- to sold out crowds, as exemplified by their sold out Castlefield Bowl show in Manchester this July (which sold out in 6 minutes, according to Gigs and Tours). They’ve already won a Brit award for Best British Breakthrough Artist at this year’s Brit awards, toured the UK (and currently America), are preparing for huge festivals globally (like Truck Festival, which they’re headlining, and Radio One’s Big Weekend) and they’re set to cause yet another storm with their latest album, “The Ride”, ┬áwhich is due out on the 27th May this year. Catfish are on fire and I don’t see their flame being extinguished any time soon.

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Catfish and the Bottlemen- The Brighton Dome, 12/04/2016

Wolf Alice- The Brighton Dome, 22/03/2016

On the 22nd March 2016, Wolf Alice played The Brighton Dome as part of their 2016 UK tour, ahead of four sold out nights at the O2 Kentish Town Forum. They were supported by Bloody Knees and their long time friends Swim Deep (it was James Balmont’s birthday too, so the crowd joined in for a sing along for the occasion).

After the release of their stunning, UK number two, mercury prize nominated debut album, “My Love Is Cool”, last year they have toured, globally, pretty much constantly since with a string of festival and concert dates worldwide. I saw the band play at Reading Festival last year (twice to be exact) without being able to fully appreciate them as I didn’t know a lot of their songs. Since then I’ve become obsessed with their music and it’s diversity, so this concert was pretty special. Their album made it to number two on my top five albums of 2015 list and I had hoped to see them live this year.

Wolf Alice are a band destined to headline arenas and festivals globally and it’s so exciting to see them not only conquer but destroy stages and effortlessly win over crowds. Rowsell’s incredible┬ávocals intertwined with skilled instrument playing creates this performance of polished perfection. There’s no gimmicks or frills, nor is there overly fussy production or pretentious band members – just simply great music. This is undoubtably what makes Wolf Alice one of a kind.

They opened with “Your Loves Whore”, from their debut album, before playing a string of hits. Each band member clad in black- bar Theo’s (bassist) garish white trousers- and stood before a simple backdrop of their album cover which twinkled in yellow lights occasionally in sympathy, yet not distractingly, with the music.

The set exemplified Ellie Rowsell’s (lead singer) complex vocal range with the diversity of songs, from the sweet lyrics of “Bros” to the angsty “Fluffy”. They played other songs from their debut album, such as “Silk”, “The Wonderwhy” and “You’re a Germ”, which the audience knew and sang along with. Their stage presence was captivating. These songs were seamlessly intertwined with songs from previous EPs, such as “She” and “Storms” (as well as GRAMMY NOMINATED “Moaning Lisa Smile”), which could be enjoyed by all. “Swallowtail” saw the male vocals of ┬ádrummer Joel Amey sing melancholic lyrics and break up the set. This was refreshing. They played a three song┬á┬áencore of “Turn To Dust”, “Blush” and “Giant Peach”. “Giant Peach” included synchronised swaying and guitar playing by Ellie and Theo (which I remember seeing at Reading and thinking how cool it was). Each song executed perfectly.

Wolf Alice are an impeccable live band with sets of pure beauty. There was something so intimate about the gig which made it special and admirable. They’re one of the greatest live bands that I’ve seen in a long time as they have something more than the obvious qualities of a great band. Their stage presence isn’t fussy, but it’s fascinating and left me totally enthralled by it all. They’re obvious headliners of the future across all manner of festivals and arena. If you’re going to fall in love with┬áa band, fall for Wolf Alice. They’ve just got that something (and I can’t quite put my finger on it).

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Wolf Alice- The Brighton Dome, 22/03/2016