Ocean Colour Scene – review

O2 ABC, Glasgow

In 2011, Ocean Colour Scene toured a 15th-anniversary reissue of their defining album, Moseley Shoals, which seemed unnecessary given that they have, in effect, been touring said LP since 1996. That's not for lack of trying to escape its gravitational pull – the Birmingham band have averaged an album every two years since, up to current set Painting – but rather due to an inability to pen much other than traditionalist, 60s-inflected rock songs that sound, well, kind of like something off Moseley Shoals.

The enduringly fierce loyalty they have generated – this is the first in a three night, sold-out residency in Glasgow, followed by an equivalent run in London – tempts revision of OCS's toxic unfashionability. But a new-material-heavy opening 40 minutes is mercilessly dull; Doodle Book barrels along nicely in a Northern-soul style until its reggaefied breakdown, auguring a cringey obsession OCS have with partly reggaefying old songs, as One for the Road and It's My Shadow later demonstrate.

The Riverboat Song – one of two numbers upon which Steve Cradock, Paul Weller's sideman since before OCS were famous, has built a guitar-hero reputation – lifts the mood with its Zeppelinesque riff and swampy blues solos. Following the turgid sloganeering of Profit in Peace, there's a momentarily affecting flash of personal nostalgia from frontman Simon Fowler after he unearths an obscure early B-side. "I wrote that song 31 years ago, when I was a teenager," he offers wistfully, "never been kissed."

Cradock's other party piece, Hundred Mile High City, starts with a moan of feedback, the guitarist egging on the crowd into a hail of pint-hurling. But it's Fowler's prosaic anthems that reign again at encore, concluding inevitably with The Day We Caught the Train, as arms wave, voices rise and lager flies. It's an enviable bond that OCS have established with their fans, yet also an inescapable bind.
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Contributor

Malcolm Jack

The GuardianTramp

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