Sam Fender’s Opening Set.
Sam Fender is possibly one of the most exciting acts around right now. Just a week ago it was announced that he has been nominated for next year’s Critics Choice Award at the Brits, alongside Lewis Capaldi and Mahalia.
He’s played plenty of headline shows in Glasgow, in the likes of King Tuts and the Garage Attic, but this time he’s here to open up for Blossoms.
The theme tune from Stranger Things blasts through the O2 Academy as Sam and his band take to the stage.
Opening his half hour set with the punchy “This tube is the gospel” lyric, he fires into one of my favourite tracks that he’s released so far – ‘Millennial.’ He continues with an unreleased track, which has references to New Order and I’m excited to listen back to.
The crowd get into the music instantly, and it’s clear that lots of people have already done their homework, singing along to ‘Start Again,’ which was released last year.
Dead Boys is possibly – I’m going to say it – one of the most important songs that’s been released this year, and hearing Sam play it live confirmed it to me. Male suicide & mental health has been at the forefront of the media recently, and with many campaigns going on just now to help prevention, Sam’s excruciatingly honest lyrics about ‘toxic masculinity’ had the room in almost silence, taking in everything being fed to them from the stage.
Closing his set with ‘That Sound’ and ‘Play God’ meant the crowd bobbed along and intently took in the politically charged lyrics simultaneously. Sam’s sound is huge, and takes over the entire room – you have absolutely no chance of not paying attention, and once you are paying attention, there’s no chance of distraction. Even the slightly younger of Blossoms fans had stopped to take it all in.
Before they were even on stage, Blossoms had the entire crowd in the palm of their hands, purely with their pre-stage playlist. Everything from Oasis to Bohemian Rhapsody (which, watching from slightly further back, and seeing the crowd all bopping up and down in harmony to the “Galileo’s,” was hilarious.) The band made an appearance on stage to Kanye’s ‘Black Skinhead’ which was drowned out by cheers and ‘here we, here we’ chants… understandably.
Opening their set with ‘Can’t Stand It’ had the whole crowd instantly going mental, followed by ‘Unfaithful’ and ‘Blow.’ In fact, there was so much love for the band that even flares were getting set off down the front (which, yes, did cause a mild panic through security and sent yellow high-vis running towards the centre of the crowd from every direction…).
When I’d first gotten into the Academy, I had noticed that most of the crowd seemed to be younger, however, as the night went on, the crowd got older and more varied and everyone off all ages seemed to be having an absolute ball.
The guys standing beside us got particularly excited when Tom Ogden introduced ‘Honey Sweet,’ which was swiftly followed by ‘Cool Like You’ – the title track of their recently released album.
The crowd did not stop once. There were the people on shoulders, the mosh pits, the constant bouncing, and I even noticed, when I looked up, there were people jumping about on the balconies upstairs – the fact they weren’t in the main crowd on the floor did not matter in the slightest.
Blossoms fired through their set of fan favourites and album tracks (most of which got the same responses – if not a bigger response – than the singles that had been released) including ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’, ‘Love Talk’, ‘Smashed Pianos’, ‘Blown Rose’ and ‘How Long Will This Last?’
‘Getaway’ ‘Stranger Still’ and ‘Between the Eyes’ took us to the “last song,” which was a familiar medley of ‘My Favourite Room’ coupled with Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous,’ Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ and Oasis’ ‘Half the World Away’ – which had certain members of the crowd literally standing on one another’s shoulders. It brought back fond memories of the band playing this medley at TRNSMT in July – yes, even the Christmas tune!
Blossoms came back on for their encore to a most welcoming crowd, and followed ‘At Most a Kiss’ with a cover of the Smiths’ ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ – much to the approval of everyone around us; ourselves included.
They finished off their set with current single ‘There’s a Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’ and closed, obviously, with ‘Charlemagne.’ The crowd loved the whole thing, from start to finish. Including the ABBA singalong on the way back out to the freezing December night.