Reviewer - Carol Lovatt

It’s hard to believe that Ocean Colour Scene have been going for near on thirty years but it’s true and last night saw the band play to a much appreciative audience on home turf as the headline act at the Beyond the Tracks festival in the heart of Birmingham.  It may have been a cool autumnal evening but OCS took no time in warming up the atmosphere with a memorable set of classic songs from their repertoire of albums including the iconic Moseley Shoals and Marchin’ Already.  Musically the band is exciting to see in concert with the gritty, emotive and distinctive voice of frontman Simon Fowler delivering a raft of poignant lyrics alongside the unmistakable guitar riffs of Steve Cradock and the persuasive percussion of Oscar Harrison.  The Birmingham show opened with the aptly chosen Profit In Peace, apt considering the state of current global events, and was followed by hits such as The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train, The Circle, Hundred Mile High City, Travellers Tune and It’s A Beautiful Thing, 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 and dancing away to the late night festival vibe. 

OCS were formed in Moseley, Birmingham  at the end of the 80s in the heady days of Britpop yet their music has definitely stood the test of time as it’s still as fresh and energised today as it was when it first hit the scene some three decades agoRaw, edgy, melodic and beautifully arranged, the songs of OCS speak to legions of fans, some of whom had ventured to Birmingham, with an appeal which spans generations and genres.  Although somewhat popular with the revival mod scene, the band had early opportunities supporting Paul Weller, it’s actually hard to pin point their influence and direction because the music has so many different layers and that’s probably what’s contributed to the longevity of the group.  As a result they constantly tour and frequently sell out.  It has to be said that the musicianship is first class.  With reference to that, there is no doubt that founding member Steve Cradock has to be one of the most outstanding guitarists on the British music scene which is also evident by the fact that he is in such demand outside of OCS, playing with the likes of The Specials, Paul Weller and PP Arnold.  The band as a whole is not adverse to collaboration and it’s probably another reason why they stay on top of their game.    

For OCS and the many fans that turned up at Eastside City Park, Beyond the Tracks proved a special gig on many levels.  Playing to a home audience, Simon Fowler paid tribute to the longstanding loyalty of many in the crowd and thanked them with sincerity and appreciation.  It was a heartfelt gesture and the fans loved it.  Steve Cradock performed to his usual awe-inspiring standard all evening and the band as a whole produced a concert which festival goers found hard to fault.  It was a gig to remember from a band that deserves to be around for several more decades to come.  OCS is on tour nationally and internationally: www.oceancolourscene.com      

4/5 stars