Ocean Colour Scene are due to perform tonight at Auckland’s Powerstation. The 13th Floor’s Tim Gruar caught the band in Wellington last night and turns in this report to give Aucklanders an idea of what they are in for. The 13th Floor will post a review and photo gallery of tonight’s show tomorrow morning.
Can you believe that Birmingham Brit-popsters Ocean Colour Scene have been at it for nearly three decades? In my kids’ eyes that’s, like ancient! But if you’re a band from the Sixties, well, you’re just getting started. And funny that, because tonight years have stripped away.
Openers Stillia from St Helens, Merseyside (‘in the North’) were practically mini-me version of every great UK pop band that’s gone before them – including OCS. Decked out in paisley shirts tight jeans and Chelsea boots they knew their history. Lead singer Jack Bennett even had a mop top and voice like a Gallagher. Alas no anorak. The four lads put on a great show with star poses, perfect and well-shaped little songs driven by riffs and melodies that borrowed heavily from The Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Clash, The Vaccines, The View, Buddy Holly, et al -all original but well familiar. Highlights included their new single 4AM and Bennett’s solo dedicated to a famous street in Liverpool.
“Have we got a few Brits in,” Asked Simon Fowler, when OCS took the stage. That might have been an understatement as most of the crowd appeared to be from one part of Blighty or another. Given the band have just done Sydney and Dubai, where their audiences were also mainly ex-pats it was no surprise when everyone went ‘mental’ on the first The Riverboat Song. No surprise, really. Because next to the show’s closer and compulsory sing-a-long, The Day We Caught The Train it was definitely one of the band’s best and well known. There was no disguising that tonight was one for the fans who’d managed to pack out 2 of three levels of our Capital’s Grand Old Lady. Having rock gigs at the Opera House is a bit weird because everyone always wants to get up and get down but the seating and the ushers seem to have issues with this. I guess they don’t want their beautiful old relic turning into a crazed-out boozer.
Well versed and well-rehearsed our heroes ploughed through a memorable set of classic songs from their repertoire of albums including Moseley Shoals and Marchin’ Already. Musically, this band is exciting to see in concert with the gritty, emotive and distinctive voice of frontman Simon Fowler delivering poignant lyrics accompanied by the unmistakable trademark guitar riffs of Steve (‘sometimes I play with Paul Weller’s band’) Cradock and the ‘cruzey’ but deft drumming of Oscar Harrison. Unlike the other two, Harrison had dressed like a Chav, in a striped vintage polyester shirt and sky-blue cheese cutter. Despite the energy that comes from behind the kit, he never seems to really move. Unlike other drummers who look like their running a marathon, Harrison is cool and calm. He reminds me of Charlie Watts.
The playlist pretty much mirrored their Sydney show running through all the big classics: Profit In Peace (apt considering the state of current global events): The Circle; a blistering version of Hundred Mile High City; Travellers Tune; a funky rendition of You Got it Bad; a soulful nod to excessive drinking in So Low; and It’s My Shadow, to name but a few and all of which came thick and fast to the delight of revellers who certainly didn’t hold back in singing along. It seemed that I was the only one who wasn’t word perfect on the lyrics. Thank goodness there wasn’t a pop quiz later.
This was OCS’ first trip to the ends of the earth. Given that they were at the height their powers when Mosley Shoals was released, in 1996, and given their fan base is likely to be mainly ex-pats it’s hard to say if we’ll ever see them again but I hope we do – they put on a splendid show – albeit 30 years late.
The Riverboat Song
Lining Your Pockets
40 Past Midnight
One For The Road
It’s My Shadow
Policemen & Pirates
You’ve Got It Bad
Profit and Peace
Hundred Mile High City
Robin Hood (Solo by Simon)
The Day We Caught The Train