OCEAN COLOUR SCENE | LIVE REVIEW
Caerphilly Castle, Sat 17 Sept
Britpop veterans Ocean Colour Scene rocked Caerphilly Castle to its very foundations with a storming set of indie classics. And despite nearing their 30th anniversary, the Brummie band prove they haven’t lost an iota of passion by delivering a supremely slick and stylish performance.
But it’s the sound of another Fab Four that thunders through the castle first as a riotous cover of The Beatles’ Day Tripper gets the gig off to a great start. Yet it’s Moseley Shoals which all the indie obsessives have turned out in droves to hear, and the Zeppelin-esque riffs of The Riverboat Song ensures that the momentum is kept at fever pitch levels. This was the tune that launched the group from being Britain’s best kept secret to mainstream indie favourites (with a little bit of help from Chris Evans’ TFI Friday), and is a big reason why they’re still centre stage 20 years later.
But the band certainly aren’t one hit wonders, as the opening acoustic strums of The Day We Caught The Train demonstrates, Simon Fowler’s voice supplemented by thousands of mods in euphoric mood. Suddenly we’re all transported back to a carefree era, dreaming of champagne supernovas in country houses when Cool Britannia was the envy of the world.
Released in 1996, Moseley Shoals stormed to number two in the UK charts and sold over a million copies before the year was out. It spawned four Top 20 singles, too, including The Circle, which is again given the mass sing-along treatment. Playing the entire album in order does mean that there’s an inevitable lull after three singles are played back-to-back, but this does give chance for a breather and to enjoy some more understated gems like Lining Your Pockets, Fleeting Mind and It’s My Shadow, which are examples of singer Simon Fowler’s best songwriting.
His voice is still as clear as a bell too, whilst Oscar Harrison’s drumming is as razor-sharp as ever. They’re the only founding members of the band on stage though with the effortlessly cool guitarist Steve Cradock on tour with The Specials in the States. His less illustrious replacement is Barry from The Fratellis (remember them?).
With Moseley Shoals complete, OCS deliver six of their greatest hits, plus fan favourite Robin Hood – which gives a nod to their contemporaries Oasis with a couple of lines of Live Forever thrown in. Get Blown Away and Travellers Tune could get even the most stubborn of crowds rocking, and the lyrics to Profit In Peace remain as relevant today as nearly two decades ago. But it’s the squalling guitar loops of Hundred Mile High City that brings the gig to a suitably epic finale.
The band was unfairly given flak by critics back in their heyday, but you would have them over most indie bands in the charts now. And it’s on nights like this you really appreciate how good they are. Ocean Duller Scene? Not on this evidence.
words NEIL COLLINS photos NEIL SWINDLEHURST