Oceansize - Garage, Highbury Corner
It’s an unfortunate term, really, that of the ‘Prog’. Conjuring up images of ‘Yes’, flagons of real ale and, heaven forbid, ‘Marillion’ but it’s not hard to see why it’s been slapped onto the marketing strategy of ‘Oceansize’. What it seems to mean in this case, is that ‘
Oceansize do not have songs that fit into any sort of easily marketable formula.
First EP, ‘A Very Still Moment’ was launched to rave reviews, and debut album (with an impossible to remember title), Effloresce is reviewed here, but live is where it counts and this band have a lot to live up to, considering they were named ‘best unsigned band of 2001’ by Manchester Evening News and have supported the likes of Cooper Temple Clause and Elbow.
Opening with a burst of feedback and a building tempo, Oceansize quickly endear themselves to the Garage crowd with their pondering opening salvo of melodic rock. It’s the perfect venue for them, small and intimate and as the opening chords their debut single from the album, “Remember Where You Are” melt away to a great stop/start riff, that lifts and caresses the crowd who sway as one. Live, this band is very tight, and all the gigging has obviously paid off.
Vocalist Mike Vennart has a slightly laid back misdemeanour that suits this style of rock. He’s not to over the top and in your face and woos rather than assaults, often low in the mix behind the wall of guitars. This is a band that likes guitars very much indeed. No less than three lead guitars, thank you very much, and obvious influences and reference points would be early heavy guitar bands like Black Sabbath and the more psychedelic output of Pink Floyd.
The longer they play, the more you realise how ill fitting the Prog label is when attached to this band. There’s really no justification for it, and what we have here is another rock band with a case of guitar overdose. Now when they are throbbing along to the likes of “One day all this could by yours” it’s all well and good, and as heavy as a lead zeppelin. There is the lingering feeling, though, that often they are simply playing for the sake of playing, rather than letting any emotion through.
The shame of this gig was that it was not really long enough to do them justice, a mere 45 minutes and given the length of the songs, by the time they’d really got going, it was time for them to go. A shame, but there you go and at least they didn’t outstay their welcome, never dull and often enlightening and always entertaining, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.