From the moment Steve Cradock unleashed the opening riff from '100 Mile High City', the crowd went wild and the scene (‘scuse the pun) was set for a throwback to the 90’s Britpop era, of which Ocean Colour Scene were a key, if not A-list, part.
This is a celebration of the band’s 1997 number one album, Marchin Already – part one of the gig consisted in playing the album pretty much in full.
Now, playing an album in full is probably an alien concept to many of today’s generation with their YouTubing, downloads and iTunes, but this is what people really did in those wonder years of CDs and hearing it revisited live onstage was – well, music to my ears. Many a 30-something’s teen and Uni-angst was played out in full to albums such as What’s The Story by Oasis, Pulp’s Different Class and Ocean Colour Scene’s Marchin Already – and its 1995 predecessor Moseley Shoals (named after the band’s Birmingham hometown of Moseley) – were up there with the Supernova heights of the Britpop era.
Singer Simon Fowler cut a dashing figure in a white shirt and grey waistcoat – grown up now from the grungy days of parkas and jeans – but a glance around the audience revealing a few Paul Weller-alikes, a smattering of aforementioned parkas and you could have believed you’d time-travelled back to the late ‘90s.
The atmosphere on stage was electric and this vibe was felt throughout the (almost all white and over-30’s) crowd – the energy from the band was unrelenting as they pounded through track after track from their iconic album – highlights for me were 'Better Day', 'Get Blown Away' and 'It’s a Beautiful Thing', which closed part one of the show.
The second half kicked off with some of their greatest songs from other albums - 'The Circle', 'The Riverboat Song' - and some new songs from this year’s LP Painting which were every bit at instantly iconic as the old songs. 'The Riverboat Song' is of course synonymous with Chris Evans’ TFI Friday show, as is Reef’s ‘Put Your Hands On’ which has forever been ruined by becoming ‘It’s Your Letters’ (only the TFI generation will understand what I mean here).
Being in the audience last night screaming ‘Anyway, for all the things you've seen, Tell me when will the river run green’ with the thousands of reminscents who were also transported back to their glory days was a moment I will remember for a very long time. The only downside were that the crowd, for most of the gig, were doing that indie-Brit swaggering and swaying instead of dancing – I was lost in the vibe of the music and couldn’t help but move, but felt at times out of place dancing, like Bez would on stage with Westlife.
Fowler performed a solo encore of the iconic 'Robin Hood', before the band regrouped for what is perhaps their best known song, and certainly my favourite, 'The Day We Caught The Train' – everyone was singing and hollering to this amazing finale, but even if they weren’t, I was too lost in my retro indie-bubble to care. An amazing band, an iconic range of songs, and one of the best gigs I have seen for years.
Setlist - Part one: Hundred Mile High City, Better Day, Travellers Tune, Big Star, Debris Road, Besides Yourself, Get Blown Away, Tele He’s Not Talking, Foxy’s Folk Faced, Spark And Cindy, Half A Dream Away, It’s A Beautiful Thing.
Part two: The Riverboat Song, Painting, So Low, Profit in Peace, Weekend, This Day Should Last Forever, It’s My Shadow, One For The Road, The Circle.
Encore: Robin Hood, The Day We Caught The Train
‘Anyway, for all the things you've seen, Tell me when will the river run green’