It’s a fresh, cold Saturday night in March and we’re bang in the centre of Brighton’s North Laine. Tonight, Stockport’s finest will unite for the third date of a whirlwind sold-out tour. Kicking off in Keele, then heading to Liverpool before making their way down to the coast, Blossoms, Cabbage and Rory Wynne are proud to be taking part in this legendary tour. Just a few of the artists known to have graced Brighton Dome on previous NME Tours include Florence & The Machine, The Killers and indie-rock royalty Arctic Monkeys.
Inside the breath-taking Brighton Dome, the sold-out venue begins to fill as Rory Wynne and his band take the stage. At just 17 years old, Wynne stands out in his leather jacket, dripping with slick devil-may-care attitude, doused under sweeping red lights. His band members appear shy and inoffensive, so they’re keen to let him take the spotlight – and that’s what he’s after.
His audience nod heads and tap toes pensively to In The Dark and other deadpan laments about love and ladies. Loud and angsty, Wynne growls of his teenage musings and growing pains with a no drama, rock’n’roll vibe. Clutching a pint in a too-cool-to-dance kind of way, Wynne’s style is truly reminiscent of the golden age of indie sweethearts – so when one confident crowd member yells “play some Slayer!”, naturally he’s met with long blank stare.
Of course, the highlight of Rory Wynne’s show is when he proudly announces, “This next songs called After Me. It’s about how good I am.” Swaggering precariously over monitors and onto the stage’s edge, he sings, “You’re the second greatest thing in the universe, after me.” One thing’s for sure, he’s not afraid of a bit of self-love.
“I’ve got some terrible news. This is my last song,” he informs the crowd nonchalantly, before launching into his final catchy number Why Don’t You?. Letting his guitar tumble to the floor, throwing his pick into the crowd, he swans offstage with serious bad boy vibes. Don’t take this one home to your parents.
5-piece Cabbage are without a doubt, on a mission to steal the show with a total and very much-needed shift in atmosphere. As they make their way onstage, the crowd begins to swell and almost instantly circle pits open up and the venue transforms into a space of insane energy. Cabbage are a noisy, grungy group of guys. With rumbling bass and drums, they produce angry, angsty, intoxicating noise. Fast-paced and addictive, the name ‘Cabbage’ remains a mystery still.
After breaking part of his pelvis, singer Lee Broadbent performs from his wheelchair, shaking his head and bouncing around as much as his body allows, allowing no room for compromise. Surrounded by excited photographers, his drive is totally admirable and the crowd go nuts for him. Casually leaned back in his wheelchair, Broadbent is chilled and totally unconcerned, with his scuffed-up Adidas resting up on a monitor. Lazing about without a care in the world, he rolls himself back and forth as he observes the crowd. At one point, he even hauls himself up in attempt to stand, boasting “I’ve got no strings on me!”. Unsurprisingly, he’s desperate to get up and about so he takes a perch on top of the kick drum, singing “I’m the biggest f*ckhead in town”. Don’t act like you’re not curious to know what kind of post-punk debauchery he’s gotten himself into.
Donning a denim jacket, he oozes a totally Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes) brand of cool. “I didn’t think I’d make it to the end of the end of this gig. Has anyone got any painkillers?” Poor guy. Guitarist Joe Martin decides it’s time to take the reins from here on out. Tearing off his t-shirt amid screams from the crowd, barefoot on the stage he’s wild and animalistic as if he’s been caged up. With a confidence and grungy style equalling that of Broadbent’s, he curls his toes over the stage’s edge singing in a voice that cracks and oozes ‘90s grungy vibes. Think Pixies, think The Strokes – Cabbage are a wonderfully troublesome, piss-off-the-neighbours group of boys. “We’ve been a very subdued Cabbage,” Broadbent admits apologetically as his bandmates proudly wheel him offstage – to a roaring chorus of cheers.
Blossoms enter the stage in darkness to a screaming crowd. Shrouded in a thick haze, they make a statement in front of the enormous ‘Blossoms’ backdrop, set under dazzling strobes. Blossoms released their momentous self-titled debut last summer, and since then have gathered an incredible following.
The ambitious and spectacular rig of strip lighting and strobes paired with Blossoms’ thumping, melodic noise produces so much atmosphere. The show feels instantly bigger and you can sense the enormous shift of exhilaration in the packed room.
Blossoms make their presence known with carefully placed echo, reverb-soaked percussion and complex rhythms – not to mention ambitious pedalboard set-ups to write home about. Vast, precise and so well put together, their performance is faultless. Crowd-pleasing hits are snuck in without bothering for big introductions. Blossoms are incredibly humble guys who don’t make a big deal of themselves onstage. Frontman Tom Ogden thanks the crowd – cool, calm and peaceful, he’s happy to be here.
Driving rhythms paired with leather boots, flared jeans and white shirts give Blossoms a Fleetwood Mac kind of style, while their twangy, chiming guitars are reminiscent of The Smiths. But Blossoms are indie’s grungy little cousin, back and tougher than ever. Sprawled on the floor, Odgen howls into the mic in a Gallagher-esque whine while his bandmates are totally unfazed. Clearly, this is a regular occurrence. Totally captivated under rattling synths and percussion, the crowd hang over the barrier going absolutely wild. Leading his crowd in singalong anthem Blow, Ogden vibes away with the audience under his spell, tangled in his mic cable without a care in the world. He’s got this.
Blossoms’ set finale is a mind-blowing light show, before they return to the stage for a five-song encore of crowd-pleasers on crowd-pleasers. “There’s a lot of lonely hearts,” Ogden murmurs to his crowd as the band leave him solo and acoustic, proceeding on to candid lament, My Favourite Room. This is the big one – the crowd becomes an ocean of jumping fans, crowdsurfers and mini circle pits opening up to capture everyone in their sway, creating a total festival feel. Closing the night, Ogden slyly sneaks in a repertoire of stolen lines from The Weeknd, Oasis and George Michael, among others. Throwing his setlist into sea of desperate grabbing hands, he exits stage right, satisfied.