Ocean Colour Scene took centre stage at Albert Hall to perform their greatest hits to their greatest fans, along with some new tunes from their latest EP ‘OCS’. The venue was decorated with festivity in mind; huge Christmas trees sat either side of the hall and yellow fairy lights laced around the balcony. On estimate, the crowd had an average of 40 – leaving the young helpers at the bar feeling a little out of place.
To warm up the crowd, motown legends Martha Reeves and the Vandellas graced the stage in glitzy black costumes, ready to perform. With the rhythm indented into their soul, they dance like the music comes so naturally to them – as though it’s the very thing that powers them. These women aren’t just singers they are performers, engaging the crowd with humour and synchronised dance moves, and there isn’t a song played that the crowd don’t know. As Ms Reeves dedicates the song ‘Nowhere to Run’ to the late Robin Williams, it is so refreshing to see a crowd actually dancing. The lead guitarist walks forward to the front for his solo as ‘Jimmy Mack’ comes to an end, but, in true diva style, Martha shoos him to the back – this is her time to shine. A blast of nostalgia left the crowd feeling buzzed and jolly, although that could also have been the beer being thrown around the dance floor…
Forty minutes later and the main event starts. Simon Fowler strolls onto stage oh so nonchalantly, knowing exactly what these people in front of him came to see. Ocean Colour Scene is a band that is loved by all generations, shown by the band members themselves, as both Steve Craddock (lead guitar) and Oscar Harrison (drums) have their sons playing on stage alongside them. They begin their set with a cover of ‘Green Onions’ by Booker T and the M.G.s, a song heavily associated with the film ‘Quadrophenia’ – what a blast from the past.
Throughout the night the band play countless hits, including ‘Robin Hood’, ‘The Circle’ and ‘The Riverboat Song’, but as Steve Craddock swaps to a psychedelic sixties-themed guitar, and the tune to ‘Profit in Peace’ begins, suddenly everyone forgets about the pushing, the spilt beer and that guy who lit a cigarette inside. Simon Fowler stands in the spotlight, swaying his arms as if composing the crowd like a choir, and they begin to sway and chant the line: ‘we don’t wanna fight no more’.
As he introduces the next song, ‘When the Nightmares Come’, Fowler utters to the crowd: “this is a song about a band from Birmingham that started 30 years ago, and now here we are wearing suits”. He laughs and the people laugh with him, a much-loved rock icon. The band return for their encore and finish with ‘The Day the Train Came’. It could be said that this was the most popular of the night, as the floor began to bounce with masses of feet upon them. The lyrics echoed around the hall at the end of the sold-out show as the musicians began to bow and say goodnight. Not one person left that venue without a smile on their face, for this was the day that Ocean Colour Scene came.
Ocean Colour Scene performed at The Albert Hall on Friday 30th October 2018. Words and photo by Sophie Cunningham.