“Who’s excited for Cabbage? Who’s excited for Blossoms? Who’s excited for me?” Rory Wynne asks the audience as he struts around the stage in his impossibly skinny drainpipe jeans, flicking his floppy hair back over his head. And the crowd are loving it. At the age of only seventeen, Wynne and his band have already made big impressions in the music business, managing to support Blossoms on their thirteen-date tour around the UK. Considering that half the audience members have at least 20 years on him, this is a remarkable feat.
Wynne begins with ‘Post Party Confusion’, his most popular song to date, recognised by the audience as they enthusiastically bop around in the mosh pit. Seventeen or not, Wynne is easily able to rile the crowd into an excited frenzy, all the teenagers in the front intensely jumping to ‘Star in the Sky’ and ‘In the Dark’ from his EP What Would Rory Wynne Do?, which was released in February.
Closely following Wynne comes the Manchester band Cabbage. Described by The Guardian as “butt-naked political truth talking,” the group’s aesthetic tips us off to the type of music this will be – a dusty drum kit is wheeled out with the word ‘cabij’ hastily gaffa taped on the front. The voices of Lee Broadbent on vocals and lead guitarist Joe Martin nicely compliment the anarchic guitar and crashing drums throughout the set, even when Martin takes off his jumper to reveal a crop top, and does his best B-52s vocal impression. Sound odd? It actually worked.
The Anarchic style is reminiscent of similar six-piece band Fat White Family, who toured with NME back in 2015, but perhaps a bit more eloquent. I get the feeling that the band may have been strongly encouraged to be on their best behaviour. Halfway through the set, Broadbent greets the LCR and announces “this next song is about touching yourself”. The crowd goes wild. The mosh pit by this point is constantly writhing with or without musical accompaniment, full of teenagers bouncing off each other with nothing but pure hormone-fuelled madness in their eyes. I think to myself “yes. This is what NME is about.”
The excitement held throughout Cabbage’s set, but as they said their goodbyes and shuffled off stage, the entire audience stood more to attention, with the other standing areas around the pit becoming more populated. It was obvious who most people had come to see. Virtually everyone was staring rapt at the stage while the techies did their thing, and every time a recorded interval song ended there was an almost audible intake of breath.
When the lights finally went down, the volume of enthusiastic whooping rose to a crescendo, until, when it seemed like everyone’s voices would crack, the lights went up and Kanye West’s ‘Black Skinhead’ started playing as the band members took their places on stage. And the Stockport based lads didn’t disappoint, launching straight into their already extensive catalogue with ‘At Most a Kiss’. All of the set was impressive, but a notable part of the performance came when all of the band except lead vocalist Tom Ogden walked off stage, leaving Ogden to play a couple of captivating acoustic numbers, culminating in a break-up song dedicated to a recently heart-broken audience member, and a strange guitar mashup of ‘Half the World Away’ and ‘Last Christmas’. Say what you like about that combo, but it was definitely done with style.
The band saved their final, emotionally charged upbeat single ‘Charlemagne’ for the very last, using their other well-known ‘Honey Sweet’ as a mid-gig pick-me-up for the crowd. Not like they needed it – every standing member in the mosh pit still hadn’t tired, keeping up the almost manic energy from the moment Wynne stepped on stage to the last few chords of ‘Charlemagne’. A top gig with top bands. I’m already excited to see what NME next have in store next.