Ocean Colour Scene - The Mill Preston - 19.11.05

Ocean Colour Scene aren't exactly the most exciting live band in the world so imagine how entertaining they'd be with just two members - Simon (vocals, guitar and mouth organ) and Oscar (piano and backing vocals). The tour is ridiculously named "Unplugged", a term so dated that it hasn't been used for at least 10 years and that was MTV. What's wrong with the phrase Semi-Acoustic or stripped down or an intimate evening with Simon and Oscar. Saying that the fans don't care.

When Dylan played acoustically he wasn't sat on a stool. He gave it his all with a passion that was 100% sweat and toil. Simon is so relaxed sat down with his acoustic that he's more like Roger Whittaker than Bob Dylan. Tonight on piano and very good he is too is Oscar, who seems comfortable and happy to be away from his kit for a night. The first few songs are so worthy and dull that it's difficult to involve yourself in their set. A greatest hits show around the old joanna would have been more suitable. Simon's vocals are strong and clear, but the choice of material is a bit weary. Album track after album track is played, each sounding like a slight variation of the last. A B-Side of a track which was originally supposed to be on an album doesn't help matters much either.

Ocean Colour Scene are a great singles band which is why the more obscure tracks don't work. The level of excitement lifts a little during the anti-war song "Profit In Peace" and "The Day I Caught The Train" always manages to turn my frown upside down, but the omission of "The Riverboat Song" is almost unforgivable. What would Chris Evans say? Simon's tendency to reveal a tougher Lennonesque side to his vocals is admirable and Oscar's rarely heard singing voice isn't half bad for a drummer.

It's a short gig though at just under seventy five minutes which must have their fans feeling fleeced at £20 a ticket. I suppose normal service will be resumed when the rest of Ocean Colour Scene return, but the acoustic performance tonight still remains disappointingly average

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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