Gig preview: Ocean Colour Scene at Millennium Square, Leeds

Ocean Colour Scene
Ocean Colour Scene
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It was the album that transformed Ocean Colour Scene from a struggling Birmingham rhythm and blues band into million-selling phenomenon who took the stage at one of Oasis’ massive concerts at Knebworth House in 1996 as one of Britpop’s most popular acts.

Two decades later singer Simon Fowler, guitarist Steve Cradock and drummer Oscar Harrison will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Moseley Shoals on a special tour that includes two nights next month in Millennium Square, Leeds.

Fifty-one-year-old Fowler jokes that he has “absolutely no idea” how this pair of shows came about. “I just get put on a bus and pointed north,” he chuckles. “Anything that takes us up to the M1 or the M6 normally. That’s about the story of my life.”

Support acts at these shows are set to include Britpop contemporaries Shed Seven and The Bluetones. “It’s going to be bit like a 90s reunion, isn’t it?” Fowler says. “In 30 years’ time we’ll all be doing cruise ships.”

He remembers appearing on Rick Witter’s radio show for Minister FM in York with Harrison when they were touring as an acoustic duo. “And him going down with all his family – oh my God, he’s got grown-up children now.

“Mark [Morriss] from The Bluetones I’ve met a few times but we never used to hang out with them.”

I should really start writing – I haven’t written for a while. It would be good otherwise we are in danger of ending up on a cruise ship with the Happy Mondays – that would be interesting.

Since they last played in Leeds OCS have gone through a change in their line-up. Gone are bass player Dan Sealey and guitarist Andy Bennett. Taking over bass duties is Ray Meade, who admits to being a “massive fan” of the band who had seen them over 20 times as a teenager and into his twenties. “Steve had played on Ray’s [solo] album,” says Fowler, explaining the connection. “He’s fitted in really well.”

“It’s ironic,” he continues, considering the band’s current dynamic, “because we started as a four-piece [with original bass player Damon Minchella who left the band in 2003]. And the concerts we’ve just done [at the start of this year] were the same venues as we did 20 years ago. Now we’re a four-piece again and it reminded me more of that sound, there’s piano in about three songs and the rest is the four of us and guitars, it’s returned to its original dynamic.”

Fowler once said Moseley Shoals – which included the hit singles The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train, The Circle and You’ve Got It Bad – was a record that set him up for life. Twenty years since its release, he looks on it with fondness.

“I haven’t listened to it since it came out but going over it for these shows it stands up,” he says. “There are one or two songs on it which I could possibly do without but there are some others which are amongst the best stuff I’ve ever written.”

He says he doesn’t feel nostalgic when performing its songs live for two reasons. “We’ve played a lot of them on and off over the last 20 years anyway, and I can’t remember a single one of those original gigs – too much fun I had.”

As for talk of a new OCS album, Fowler says there’s nothing currently planned. “I should really start writing – I haven’t written for a while,” he says. “It would be good otherwise we are in danger of ending up on a cruise ship with the Happy Mondays – that would be interesting.”

In December the band are doing a series of arena gigs. “Whether we’ll have anything new in time for them I don’t know,” the singer says. “I suppose that’s essentially down to me.”

Twenty-seven years since they formed OCS, Fowler says he , Cradock and Harrison remain firm friends. “We don’t have the same relationship in as much as we don’t live out of each other’s pockets. Steve lives in Devon, I live in Stratford-upon-Avon Oscar lives in Birmingham so we don’t see each other in the same way we used to, which was all day every day when we were doing stuff together years ago but you grow up and have your own lives.”

Ocean Colour Scene play in Millennium Square on July 23 and 24. For details visit http://oceancolourscene.com/

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