I’ve long admired Ocean Colour Scene but never actually seen the full band live before. I have seen lead singer, Simon Fowler, do a nice, intimate, laid-back acoustic set once. But tonight he is, rightly, in full-on rock star mode so it’s up to Paul Weller to do the nice, intimate, laid-back acoustic set in a lovely and unexpected surprise as support act. One of the joys about gig-going in London is that you do often get nice little surprises like this. (See my post on the Dave Davies gig in Islington this time last year when Ray decided to join his brother for an encore, for example.)
It’s 20 years this year since Ocean Colour Scene’s Moseley Shoals album came out and to mark the anniversary the band are doing a short tour performing it in full. I’d love to be able to say I first became aware of them when they were an obscure band starting out but like, I suspect, many, many people Ocean Colour Scene only came on to my attention when the brilliantly memorable ‘Riverboat Song’ (the opening track on this album) was used by Chris Evans each week in his TFI Friday Show.
Mosley Shoals (a West Midlands-inspired pun on the famous Muscle Shoals studios in the States) is definitely one of the strongest albums emerging out of the mid-90s Britpop era. Before they get cracking with Moseley Shoals, however, they reel off a version of The Beatles’ Day Tripper’ that gets the audience nicely warmed up. Then, beginning with ‘The Riverboat Song’ it’s off for a glorious ride, track by track through Mosley Shoals.
A few years ago the whole ‘band-performs-album-in-full’ routine was in danger of getting massively over-done. But for truly iconic albums like this it’s definitely something worth seeing. Moseley Shoals is one of those albums that contains so many memorable songs that it’s more like a “best of” compilation of band classic than just another regular studio album. Unforgettable songs like the aforementioned ‘The Riverboat Song’, ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ and ‘The Circle’ have the entire venue on their feet and that continues throughout the whole performance (even though, for some reason, the Apollo decided to set up the venue as an all-seater tonight, rather than pull the moveable seating out which they often do for many big bands).
Fowler’s voice is as strong as ever and Steve Cradock really gives it some welly on lead guitar, with some nice solos. With three of the four of the original line-up still with the band, it gives the performance some genuine authenticity. Paul Weller returns to the stage again for ‘The Circle’ – one of the tracks on which he performed on the original album.
The crowd sing along with each track and once the band are done with the album they continue with a well-chosen selection of band classics, including an emotional communal sing-along to ‘Profit In Peace’.
As the previous generation of rock icons fill the obituary pages on an almost daily basis it’s now up to the Britpop generation to start assuming some of their imperial majesty in celebrating our rock history. Ocean Colour Scene have certainly risen to that challenge tonight.
The Riverboat Song
The Day We Caught the Train
Lining Your Pockets
40 Past Midnight
One for the Road
It’s My Shadow
Policemen & Pirates
You’ve Got It Bad
Foxy’s Folk Faced
This Day Should Last Forever
Profit in Peace
Get Blown Away
Hundred Mile High City