Monday, 1 March 2010

Ocean Colour Scene - Cambridge Corn Exchange, 28th February 2010

I noticed these guys on the listings for the CornEx, but didn't bother buying a ticket, mostly because I thought the £25 or whatever that they were asking was a bit steep. I would say I'm fairly acquainted with OCS, but I'm hardly a huge fan. They're basically a band that my Dad was a fan of, and as a result there are two albums by them in our house, and I'm familiar with a lot of their songs, if for no other reason than they're planted into past memories of my childhood.

Still, I do occasionally listen to them, and I think they've got quite a few songs. Ocean Colour Scene were one of the string of successful British rock bands in the mid-90's. These guys were a support act for Oasis, back when Oasis were nearing the peak of their fame. They're also pretty good friends with Paul Weller from The Jam. They've had a number one album and six top-ten singles (and back before the charts were quite as shit), so definitely aren't slouches musically.

While £25 was a bit too much for a ticket, when I was offered a free one by Chris, who is reviewing the gig for the tab, I was pretty happy to go. Getting into a gig by being on the press list is pretty sweet, even ignoring the fact that the ticket is free. I bought a t-shirt too, because it's a pretty swish looking one and I liked the design, and figured that I should maybe pay something given I do quite like the band.

As a band who were at their most successful in the mid to late 90's and have sort of fated into obscurity since, I wasn't expecting much youth at the concert. I know a fair few people of my age who know of them, but most of them are through dads, and I don't know anyone who properly follows them any more. It didn't surprise me that we seemed to be distinctly the youngest people there, and I'd estimate the average age to be around thirty. Makes sense, given I was still in primary school when they were topping charts.

Have to say though, they put on a pretty damn good show. I wasn't expecting the sort of visual effects that they actually had, and they clearly made enough money back in the 90's to splash out touring today. They had a far better lights set up than any other band I've seen in the CornEx, which includes massively successful bands like Bloc Party and Feeder. Visually it was far better than I was expecting it to be.

The music was varied for me, mostly depending on whether I knew the song or not. Any songs which were from Mosely Shoals or Marchin' Already I'd know from my childhood and from listening to the albums a occasionally in the last few years. Obviously I knew the big hits like Hundred Mile High City (video below), The Circle, The Day We Caught The Train and The Riverboat Song (video above), as well as the personal favourite of mine, Get Blown Away. There were a lot of other songs I didn't know, including quite a good one called Go To Sea, which I really liked and which had an epicly long guitar solo.

One thing I have to say is that despite this being their 21st anniversary tour as a band, which if nothing else marks how old these guys now are, they still sound really good. Their counterparts Oasis have had fairly battered vocals from Liam Gallagher when they've performed in the last few years, but Ocean Colour Scene still sound good for their age. The vocals are still strong, they're still in tune, and the band still has energy. It didn't feel like I was watching ageing rockers who had been doing this for over twenty years now; it felt like I was watching a band who were still as good and as youthful as they ever were.

Other notable moments of the evening include a really drunk guy who must have been well into his forties to our right shouting out song suggestions. When they finished the first part of the set, and were still to come on for the encore, he was repeatedly yelling "Fuck off! Riverboat or fuck off!". When they predictably played The Riverboat Song in the encore he was going absolutely mental.

So yeah, really awesome evening overall. Some enjoyment was from nostalgia, but most of it was from seeing a genuinely good band giving a very good live performance. Would definitely consider seeing them if they tour in Cambridge again.

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