Ocean Colour Scene in The Olympia, Dublin, 5 December 2016
It’s the start of December, and you know what that means. It’s time for the Twelve Pubs part-timers. It’s time for Christmas Silly Season proper to begin. It’s time for a staple appearance from stalwarts of the UK indie scene. You guessed it…it’s time for Ocean Colour Scene to sell out The Olympia once or twice, or maybe even three times. Don’t ever underestimate the loyalty of an Ocean Colour Scene fan, or the band’s pulling power, and certainly don’t underestimate the sheer resilience of the Birmingham outfit.
It’s almost a quarter of a century since Ocean Colour came onto the scene, trundling ever-onward from the smoking carcass of Britpop into a new millennium, and while the times they were a-changin’, OCS remained steadfast in their retro plundering to bang out a record every two or three years with nary a deviation from the well-worn formula. Let’s face it, it’s done their popularity no harm, but nostalgia for the mid-nineties has much more to answer for than songwriting when OCS come to town.
It seems as if Simon Fowler has been marchin’ already as they open with Day Tripper, eyeballing the crowd while they run through what amounts to little more than a soundcheck. When he sings The Riverboat Song’s “I see double…” line it’s well believable. In any event, the ‘Moseley Shoals’ album run-through is on its way. They’ve done it here before and they’ll do it here again, and it will sell out and the roof will lift when they crack into that opening number. Absent, though, is drummer Oscar Harrison, having apparently done his back in. His substitution is clearly felt during the set – missed cues, by-numbers beats, a ham-fisted solo tacked onto the end of You’ve Got It Bad. The stand-in is under-rehearsed and it shows, but at this point Ocean Colour Scene don’t have to make any effort in Dublin…these sets are sewn up before the band get anywhere near the venue.
This is about the nostalgia trip – a set culled from that era – and the crowd reaction to most of the tracks is as expected. The bellowed codas of Profit in Peace and Get Blown Away are deafening and even the band seem taken aback at the din, but disinterest reigns for Moseley’s more laid back numbers, and – honest to fuck – Fowler even seems to stifle a yawn as the album section winds down. The feeble harmonica solo on Get Away can mean one of two things – the lungs aren’t what they used to be, or this band just cannot be arsed.
Robin Hood, as ever, segues briefly into Oasis’ Live Forever before Hundred Mile High City draws the night to a merciful close. Once more, it’s the same old, same old from a band that just doesn’t seem to feel the need to put in the effort; yet another forgettable notch on the belt.
‘STOP GOING TO THEIR FUCKING GIGS, THEN!’ Fair point – but why do exes get back together? Why do alcoholics crawl back into the bottle? Why do aging mods wear paisley shirts that are two sizes too small? It’s nostalgia, but it’s also more than that…didn’t someone once say that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result? It’s an illness, a helpless longing for those halcyon days when The Day We Caught the Train seemed like the best shit ever. Maybe it was. Maybe it still is. We’ll keep chasing that dream.