Ocean Colour Scene – Live and Acoustic at Birmingham Symphony Hall, February 2015

My OH is a huge fan of Ocean Colour Scene so how appropriate that they should be playing in Birmingham on his birthday week! No problem for me choosing his present then, oh and I get to enjoy it too.

“Fare you well I’ll carry me away ….
and sing for those I know upon their birthdays….”

My first memories of Ocean Colour Scene were from TFI Friday back in the 90s where they appeared on the first show and a snippet from The Riverboat Song was used every week. Chris Evans was a big fan.

“I see double up ahead 
Where the riverboat swayed beneath the sun 
Is where the river runs red” 
photo credit: Liam Garland (Little Liam)

I’ve seen them play live a few times now and I remember at the last gig saying how weird it would be watching them sitting down. We were standing, well dancing, throughout the whole gig. So, it was quite novel going to see them at Symphony Hall Birmingham, where it is all seats. OH has seen them play acoustic before at Town Hall and he loved it, but this was a first for me.

Ocean Colour Scene are known for their mix of rock and folk music. Their fans will argue which they prefer, but they actually make both work. I remember some stranger saying to me before we went into the hall, ‘I bet you don’t know what to expect?’ I’m not really sure what he meant but if I’m honest, I’m not sure anyone really knew what to expect. I’ve come to learn though, that when going to see OCS live there is one thing you can expect and that is not to be disappointed.

Let’s start with Simon Fowler’s voice. He is just amazing live. A recording can be tweaked to perfection, but to be able to sing like that on a stage is real talent. He complained at one point that the smoke machine was choking him, but honestly, I hadn’t noticed.

Simon Fowler. Photo Credit; Liam Garland

There were three band members on stage, Simon, Steve Cradock and Oscar Harrison, they were backed by a string quartet. For some tunes Steve was on his electric guitar with his box of special effects to give the show a more rock feel. The strings fitted in seamlessly and often added a lot more, particularly in haunting tunes like Alibis. Of course, Symphony Hall is made for music like this.

The band played a real mixture of tunes to please the audience. The theme was acoustic so there were lots of lovely melodies like Families (dedicated to all the mums dads and children, have I missed anyone out?) , Have you got the Right, Better Day and one of my particular favourites, She’s Been Writing. Then there were the classic rock tunes which had the audience up in their seats dancing and singing along, One For the Road, Profit in Peace The Day We Caught the Train and The Circle. Something for everyone, new fans and old, rock fans and folk.

“She’s been writing
She’s been writing
She’s been, ah, she’s been… writing”

We had a great evening, the music was great, the atmosphere was great and I’d definitely go and see them again like this.

Photo Credit: Liam Garland


  1. February 27, 2015 / 1:39 pm

    Sounds like you had a fun night. It was obviously fate that they happened to be playing the same week as you OH's bday. Perfect timing #PoCoLo

    • February 27, 2015 / 11:03 pm

      I know, great timing…and last year, my favourite band had a gig in our city on my birthday!

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