REVIEW: Ocean Colour Scene, O2 Arena, Sheffield

Ocean Colour Scene
Ocean Colour Scene

IT’S been more than a decade since I last saw Ocean Colour Scene.

Their 2011 Tour, which played Sheffield’s O2 Arena last night, marks 15 years since the release of Moseley Shoals - in my view, one of the Britpop era’s greatest achievements.

A lot has changed since 1996. The crowd showed a marked increase in beer bellies and grey hair - and my dad wasn’t waiting outside to give me a lift home.

Generally speaking, the band have worn better, though when a cup full of water flew onto the stage soaking lead singer Simon Fowler, he made a grandmother-like fuss about it.

The opening tracks on Moseley Shoals - which was played in its entirety - are also their three most-acclaimed hits: The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train and The Circle. An enthusiastic Steel City crowd lapped up the opening numbers with rapturous sing-a-long nostalgia. It was a bit like watching a gig in reverse.

Playing any album in full has a retro feel these days but this is a playlist with few tracks that I’d skip. I get the feeling the band - and they are a fair way into the tour - would probably disagree. Fowler actually sat down and let the crowd sing for him on more than one occasion.

When a band has such an iconic album, it’s easy to forget the rest of their material, and there are some gems including anthem-like Profit In Peace, Better Day and Hundred Mile City.

There was some newer material too, which offered a glimpse back to the band’s more animated former selves. Playing the same tracks in the same order must get boring but I can think of worse jobs.

Grumpy Fowler pointed at the crowd towards the end of the gig and said: “If you throw any more water, I’m off. But the rest of you have been amazing”.

It is, of course, the comeback tour of a band of a certain age but I’m more than happy to contribute to their retirement fund - in fact, it’s good to know that at least four people still have a reliable pension plan.

By Jen Foster