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Ocean Colour Scene

Saturday 16th December 2023

Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London

Last Saturday, the Eventim Apollo reverberated with the timeless sounds of Ocean Colour Scene, one of the most iconic acts from the Britpop era of the 90’s, who delivered a brilliant performance that left the audience in awe. Despite facing the challenge of Simon Fowler's ailing voice due to illness, the show unfolded into an unforgettable night of music, camaraderie and shared passion.

The evening kicked off with the anthemic ‘One for the Road’, setting the tone for a journey through the band's rich catalogue. ‘Families’ and ‘July’ followed, resonating with the nostalgic sentiments that have made Ocean Colour Scene a staple in the hearts of their devoted fan base. Despite Fowler's vocal struggles, the partisan audience stepped up admirably filling the venue with a united chorus that embraced every lyric. ‘Better Day’ and ‘The Downstream’ showed that Simon and the other founding members, Steve Craddock and Oscar Harrison, hadn’t lost a beat in the 27 years since album ‘Moseley Shoals’ shot OCS to fame.

The crowd went wild as the iconic Paul Weller joined the boys on stage for ‘The Circle’, showcasing the seamless blend of two iconic acts. This was followed by the addition of vocalist P.P. Arnold on ‘Travellers Tune’ and ‘It's a Beautiful Thing’ elevated the performance to new heights. The chemistry on stage was palpable, and it was evident that, despite the challenges, Ocean Colour Scene were determined to deliver an unforgettable experience.

The setlist, carefully curated to span the band's illustrious career, resonated with both long-time fans and those discovering their music for the first time. Tracks like ‘Huckleberry Grove’ and ‘Debris Road’ showcased the band's musical depth, while their rendition of ‘Half a Dream Away’ provided a poignant lead into the beautiful ‘It’s My Shadow’.

As the night progressed, the energy in the venue reached its zenith with hits like ‘The Riverboat Song’ and ‘Hundred Mile High City’, eliciting a collective fervour that lifted the whole fan experience. The audience's unwavering support and participation created a beautiful atmosphere, where the love for Ocean Colour Scene's music eclipsed any expectations.

The encore, featuring the classic ‘Robin Hood’ ‘Get Blown Away’ and ‘The Day We Caught the Train’, served as a triumphant conclusion to a night that defied adversity. Each note, each lyric and each moment was a testament to the enduring legacy of Ocean Colour Scene and their ability to forge a profound connection with their audience.

In the end, what could have been a setback due to Fowler's health became a rallying point for fans to unite and celebrate the music they hold dear. This performance will be remembered not just for the melodies that filled the air, but also for the collective spirit that made it an extraordinary night of music and camaraderie. As the WRC’s editor will confirm, I’ve long been trying to photograph and review this iconic band from my teenage musical education, and not even losing my glasses at the event could break my good mood installed by such an experience.

Chris Griffiths

Setlist:
One for the Road
Families
July
Better Day
The Downstream
The Circle (with Paul Weller)
Travellers Tune (With Paul Weller and P.P. Arnold)
It's a Beautiful Thing (with P.P. Arnold)
Huckleberry Grove
Debris Road
Half a Dream Away
It's My Shadow
The Riverboat Song
Hundred Mile High City

Encore:

Robin Hood
Get Blown Away
The Day We Caught the Train

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