Review: Blueprint: Bigger. Better. Back.
PHOEBE LUCKHURST watched in awe as underwear flew over her head towards Cambridge’s first boyband.
Thursday 11th March, Queen's Fitzpatrick Hall, £8.50/6.50
I begin with a kernel of history from the annals of Luckhurst family anecdotes. When I was ten, I got so excited about seeing Five (or rather, 5ive) at the S.E.C.C. that I actually threw up all about half an hour before departure. I was sent to bed with a basin and a Roald Dahl book. He’d scare some sense into me. We all know what happened to Veruca Salt.
Luckily, my anticipation for seeing Blueprint ("Bigger. Better. Back.") proved not to be quite as much of an emetic. Now. My expectations were high. Being lucky enough (or as some of Blueprint’s more hysterical female fans might term it, ‘divinely blessed’) to be at the same college as Mr Ed 'Check out those guns' Stephenson, I had overheard the Blue-crew rehearsing in Catz bar a couple of times. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty sure they were checking me out as I dropped three of my overdue library books next to the vending machine after a mistimed collision with a stray kerb. Plus, they are "better than food" (The Tab, 2010).
To the uninitiated, a boyband of Cambridge undergraduates sounds, frankly, ridiculous. But anyone familiar with the machinations of this university, specifically our willingness to elevate our fellow students and manufacture university/college celebrities’ will recognise that Blueprint’s renown is not, actually, particularly aberrant. So Blueprint were always going to sell out, and frankly, whether they were "Bigger. Better. Back." or not was irrelevant. "Bigger" I’m not sure about – although I can’t have been the only one ogling Ed Stephenson’s and Oli Hunt’s biceps as they sashayed across the stage – but they were better than the last time I heard them. Admittedly, I don’t know if they technically went away either – which casts aspersions on the claim that they are "back", but alliteration is a powerful rhetorical trope so we’ll allow the boys their pithy slogan.
Credit must be given to the band, who were fantastic: slick, tight and able to carry the boys on the few stray notes that weren’t quite conquered, and the single ‘original Blueprint number’ was perfectly-arranged and rather catchy. The set itself provided a requisite quota of slow and fast numbers. Dan Garsin has a fantastic voice, and James Partridge might be the extra member the Backstreet Boys never had. Baby-faced Matt Eberhardt had the two girls in front of me literally swooning. I personally was a vocal participant in a number of post-Blueprint debates about which of the five "you would". The first pair of pants were thrown roughly thirty seconds into the second song – a pair of white boxers, suggesting that Blueprint have also achieved the much-vaunted gay following that is the indication of ‘arrival’ on the boyband scene.
The fug of alcohol that hung in the air suggested that people had been pre-lashing, but it would be unfair to say that this was the reason for the crowd’s enthusiasm. The boys are natural performers. The outfits were a little cruise-ship quintet, but when I saw Matt Eberhardt catch a stray feather that had floated off the girl in the front row’s fluorescent feather boa – then blow it into a different section of doe-eyed girls – in a move of unrivalled hand-eye coordination, I could overlook the cream suits. Voice of an angel, reflexes of a panther. Obviously, the crowd was swelled with friends and admirers, but the enthusiasm of a slightly lashed crowd of acquaintances would not have been enough without the boy’s obvious and – yes, I must say it – infectious passion for their performance. Ed Stephenson grasped my friend’s outstretched hand at one point, and her face lit up with an unadultered joy that I think it's fair to say no other Cambridge boy has ever been responsible for.
Given that I was so hungover I’d barely been capable of coherent speech three hours previously, the fact that the boys had me singing along to all the songs and even managing to jerk my limbs slightly out of time in a fashion that a dyspraxic might consider ‘dancing’, is a true testament to the gig. Blueprint have returned – from an unidentifiable journey/absence – and I’m not ashamed to say I’m extremely glad I sucked it up and saw them.