Live review: Ocean Colour Scene, Irish Centre, Digbeth – 22/01/2016

26 years on Ocean Colour Scene launch their 2016 campaign with an ongoing UK tour. February, it’s Australia, but tonight it’s on home turf – a 800 capacity sell-out return to the Irish Centre.

The ubiquitous Green Onions intro cranks up and the house lights fade out to reveal roving colour spots (a singular feature of the lighting dynamic tonight) with Foxy Fowler announcing “This one’s called The Riverboat Song”. Cue 100 minutes of high-five tribal chorus participation. With Riverboat climaxing to Oscar Harrison’s thunder drum rolls and Steve Craddock’s triple-espresso hyper solos, the latter looks genuinely stunned by the bands’ welcome home. And new bassist, Raymond Meade, brings a youthful dynamism and stunning interpretation.

The set-list tells it all. It’s vintage OCS and no troubling ‘new material’ to excuse a visit to the bar/bog or to text your nan. They’ve taken, and no doubt will take, flak for this, resting on past laurels. But tonight proves that this isn’t a bad thing. The main set closes with Travellers Tune and Fowler sweating like a horse. The encores have a caveat, Oscar has strained his groin and it looks dodgy (no, we didn’t see it). Fowler does an acoustic Robin Hood and oh how we miss those outstretched cigarette lighters and moments of communal slush. There’s an appreciative name-check for Dave Travis and a touching nod to Paul Murphy. Whatever they did to Oscar seemed the business because they close with the runaway train riffing 100 Mile High City.

Set list: Riverboat Song, Day We Caught The Train, The Circle, Lining Your Pockets, Fleeting Mind, 40 Past Midnight, One For The Road, It’s My Shadow, Policemen & Pirates, The Downstream, You’ve Got It Bad, Get Away, Foxy’s Folk Face (solo), Better Day, Profit In Peace, I Wanna Stay Alive With You, So Low, Get Blown Away, Travellers Tune. (Encore) – Robin Hood, 100 Mile High City.

Words: John Kennedy



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