REVIEW: Ocean Colour Scene, Junction, Dec 4

I HAD lost touch with Ocean Colour Scene. During the late 1990s a succession of strong albums marked them out as a formidable songwriting force and a great live act. Later, some weak sounding singles left me uninspired and uncurious about the albums they

I HAD lost touch with Ocean Colour Scene. During the late 1990s a succession of strong albums marked them out as a formidable songwriting force and a great live act. Later, some weak sounding singles left me uninspired and uncurious about the albums they came from. However, I do know that much of their best material is to be found away from their breakthrough album Moseley Shoals. There is more to the band than the radio might have you believe.

Tonight's acoustic show was an ideal setting for re-acquaintance with the Birmingham band. The set comprised some of their more mature tracks, exemplified by the beautiful So Low early on in the show.

Steve Cradock's lead acoustic guitar was at times subtly decorative and at others fiercely aggressive.

Singer Simon Fowler embodied the feel of the night with his rhythm acoustic guitar and harmonica. There was even something of Neil Young about him - a folky honesty and simplicity.

Meanwhile, Oscar Harrison accompanied at times on piano, bass and percussion.

The fullness of the sound created by the three musicians gave the welcome impression that this acoustic show was not a rushed together novelty, but a carefully thought out arrangement of the songs.

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If the show missed anything it was a sense of darkness and journey - a real working through of life's problems. Even the inspiring One For the Road and its spirit of living for the moment in the face of tragedy struck me as a song for the audience.

At their finest, the songs are classics and even sound like standards that don't belong to the songwriters anymore.

That's meant as a big compliment, but equally I wish the songs had their writers' fingerprints all over them - muddying them, making them their own.

The crowd's singalong of The Day We Caught The Train felt as much as the band playing along to the crowd as the other way around. In fact, I think the crowd started singing first - "are we that predictable?" asked Fowler at the end of the set as he continued with the track.

No, not predictable at all - I really didn't expect to enjoy the show quite so much and walked out extremely inspired.

CHRIS BOLAND

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