Ocean Colour Scene - Manchester Apollo
The rumoured dancing girls are ultimately a no-show, the neon backdrop fails to materialise and the much vaunted duet between Simon Fowler and Lady Gaga, I don't think it's ever gonna happen. I really don't. Are Ocean Colour Scene the world's most workmanlike band ? Ouch. Incredible what we choose to throw at groups who have the gall to simply not crumble under the weight of years. Turning our collective nose up at OCS because they've been around forever and are quite clearly going nowhere, well, how badly that speaks of us fully paid up groovy gang members I can't begin to say.
And it's not a subject I'd care to discuss with OCS's ever loyal fanbase; Manchester turns out for them in impressive numbers tonight and the next day they fill the Royal Albert Hall. (The perky young things would kill for a slice of this - drawing big crowds into middle age? How so?!) I suspect every single person who raises their arms as the opening riff to 'The Riverboat Song' rings out tonight has seen them, oh, two or three times before. At least. The level of familiarity here tonight is palpable, demonstrated by a raucous singlong to their take on 'Daytripper' and cheers every time Steve Craddock changes guitar. Simon Fowler's way with his audience is as easy-going as twenty years together should allow.
They play a handful of songs from this year's album Saturday and if Moseley Shoals sales figures are way behind them, the likes of 'Mrs Maylie' and 'Magic Carpet Days' are greeted warmly. Onstage for the best part of two hours, I swear I've not seen such a cheery crowd in an age. If OCS are survivors, it's a label they wear with laudable dignity. As they build up a head of steam and a rollicking 'Profit in Peace' finds the crowd in full voice, I suddenly realise this isn't the first time I've seen them. A senior moment? Well, it's been a long time. Fifteen years, to be precise, and back then on the other side of town they were opening for a band that no longer exists in a football stadium long since reduced to rubble.
Looking around me as I run for my lift, as they exit with a rousing 'The Day We Caught the Train', the Manchester chorus taking over, it occurs to me that everyone here tonight was surely there too. That sometimes it's not what you know, who you know or, for a band so steeped in the past, where you've been. It's where you're going. And Ocean Colour Scene, lofty sneering aside, are going nowhere fast.