Ocean Colour Scene

Astoria, London

Just as we'll supposedly be reading newspapers on mobile phones within the next few years, so electronica will shortly be seeing off guitar bands. As if. The concept of white men thrashing Stratocasters may seem quaint, but the success of Travis and Stereophonics proves that millions still prefer their rock straight up, with a twist of denim. Ocean Colour Scene's five-night stand at the Astoria sold out without even a new release in the shops.

Their allure has its roots in the same fashion-spurning hemisphere as their friend Paul Weller, where it's okay to be sensitive as long as you get your round in. Sensitivity was bottom of the agenda for the beery house, though, which repeatedly erupted in moos of "we are the mods". They say bands get the fans they deserve, but the Oceans seem a bit hard done by, passionately balladeering about Leah Betts (One for the Road) while fans obliviously crowd-surf.

Of course, if you didn't know what Simon Fowler was singing, you'd be justified in taking this simply to be uplifting pub rock. The classic pub configuration - Fowler out front, loping bassist Damon Minchella and blues-influenced guitarist Steve Cradock on either side, drummer Oscar Harrison behind - emphasises their commitment to tradition.

But this kind of thing can be a cathartic release for both band and crowd, and numbers such as The Circle create a real rapport between the wide-eyed Fowler and his people. His hoarse delivery has the stamp of authenticity. He's lived, loved and ended up in the tabloids for it, and brings something of the experience to his performance. At any rate, the fans see him as theirs. Apparently, there are some for whom "dadrock" is more a compliment than an insult.

• Till Saturday. Box office: 0171-434 0403.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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