Until the band embarked on stage some 25 minutes after the last race of the day, I had completely forgotten that in the mid to late nineties, I often confused Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri with Natalie Imbruglia. With that in mind, when the evening didn’t begin with a crowd-pleasing rendition of ‘Torn’, I’ll confess I was a little disappointed.
After I came to my senses and realised which band I was watching, my disappointment turned to mild contentment as Spiteri and crew worked through a string of top 20 hits that I had for the most part, dispelled from my memory.
Kicking off with ‘I Don’t Want A Lover’, I was genuinely surprised at the level of crowd engagement as there appeared to be a decent number of authentic Texas fans in attendance, singing along to every word with joyful abandon. Either that or they had smashed into 12/1 winner Ski Blast in the final race and were suitably inebriated and therefore chanting mindlessly.
The hits kept coming with ‘Halo’, ‘Black Eyed Boy’ and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ keeping the crowd bouncing throughout and as far as I could tell, the dreaded ‘new material’ was foregone or at least mercifully kept to a minimum.
Spiteri frolicked around the stage and appeared to be enjoying the performance, speaking to the crowd on a number of occasions. Though myself and the people around me could not make out what she was saying aside from the odd ‘Doncaster’ ‘Glasgow’ or ‘F***’, it would be unfair to blame this on the sound system as it was more a case of a broad accent lost in translation.
On to the finale, as the band built to a feel-good finish of ‘Inner Smile’ and ‘Say What You Want’. The former predictably saw the biggest sing a long of the evening with men, women and children of all ages chanting along to the catchy chorus. In a pensive moment, I deduced that had the song been named simply ‘Yeah’ after its chorus backing refrain, it doubtless would have spent a few weeks at number 1 back in the day. Opportunity missed.
After ‘Say What You Want’, most in attendance believed that they were free to go, Sharleen and the Texies had other ideas however when they returned to the stage and launched into a cover of the Elvis classic ‘Suspicious Minds’, that could only be described as ‘faithful’. I managed to catch the first minute or so of said cover before one of our party became upset/too drunk (delete as applicable) and tearfully insisted that we left immediately. I bet if you had told Texas they would have brought the Doncaster crowd to tears by the end of the set, they’d have taken that…
‘I see trouble, up ahead…’
Call me a pedant but I have something of an obsession when it comes to Britpop. I have a checklist of all the bands that inspired me in the 90s and it is my life’s work to try and see them all live at some point. It’s not quite train spotting but it isn’t far off…
Ocean Colour Scene are a band that didn’t just define my childhood but also the 90s in general. The riff to ‘The Riverboat Song’ is as quintessentially 90s as Sonic the Hedgehog or Saved by the Bell. It was fitting then that the band used that very riff to kick off their unconventional gig at the Doncaster Racecourse.
Playing a racecourse is a tough gig. The crowd are miles away from the stage, they mostly haven’t come to see the music and a races crowd is perhaps more likely to contain scoundrels and trouble makers. Ocean Colour Scene have been doing this for over twenty years now however and they never seemed fazed. ‘The Riverboat Songs’ kicks things off and any fears that the venue won’t suit the band are firmly allayed.
The Birmingham five piece wisely begin with something of a hit parade with a storming ‘You’ve Got It Bad’ followed by an uplifting performance of ‘Profit in Peace’. Some Ocean Colour Scenes songs have aged better than others but ‘The Circle’ still sounds as vital as ever and is greeted with more enthusiasm than anything else so far.
Frontman Simon Fowler keeps on stage patter to a minimum and prefers the music to do the talking but he does comment “this ones about the band” before launching into an unstoppable rendition of ‘Better Days’. Fowler gives a brief band introduction before ‘So Low’ but there is one man who needs no introduction. Steve Cradock is one of the most talented guitarists of his generation and it is life affirming to see him attack his instrument with such gusto after so many years. Drummer Oscar Harrison leads the band from the back with a fury that matches Fowlers impassioned vocals. It is clear why this band remain so loved.
An unexpected but welcome cover of The Beatles classic ‘Daytripper’ goes down a storm after a boozy day at the races but it is ‘Get Blown Away’ that inspires the evenings best performance. The track from the 1997 album Marchin’ Already has always been the bands most underrated song and judging by the way they tear through it here they certainly echo that sentiment. The rock ‘n’ roll stomp of ‘Travellers Tune’ and a chaotic run through of ‘Hundred Mile High City’ close out the first part of the set.
Simon Fowler returns to the stage for a solo acoustic version of ‘Robin Hood’ before the rest of OCS return for an obligatory run through of ‘The Day We Caught The Train’. The latter is a song I mostly skip now as I have heard it so many times but there is no denying it’s power as a live spectacle. Everyone in the crowd sings along and it feels like the perfect way to end a barnstorming set. You know a song is a classic when even the security guys are singing along…
The Birmingham band’s story is already the stuff of legend: a rip-roaring rock’n’folk odyssey set to a backdrop of 23 years of UK pop culture at its very best.
In this 23-year existence, Ocean Colour Scene have notched up nine albums, three of which went Top 5 – 1996’s Moseley Shoals, 1997’s Marchin’ Already and 1999’s One From The Modern – and a run of nine successive Top 20 hit singles commencing with 1996’s The Riverboat Song.
They supported Oasis at their massive Knebworth shows that same year, and two years later helmed the biggest arena tour of any UK band to date. Their achievements have been nothing short of phenomenal.
From their days as Breton-shirt wearing disciples of The Stone Roses (debut single ‘Sway’) to million selling Britpop superstars (‘Marchin’ Already’ bumped Oasis’ ‘What the Story’ from the top spot in 1997) to long-term touring allies with Paul Weller, they have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the greats of modern British rock.
music after racing
|Number of Races:||7|
|Going:||To Be Shown 1 Week Prior To The Raceday|
|Price Band:||Premium Pricing|
A lot has happened since local band Alvarez Kings last graced The Leopard. The melodic indie band have been signed to a major label, toured the world and released their brilliant debut album Somewhere Between.
If their last appearance at Doncaster’s most iconic music venue is anything to go by, the Doncaster punters are in for a treat. The band will hit The Leopard on Friday 9th June for the bargain price of £5 advance or £7 on the night. Alvarez Kings will be joined by local talent in the shape of Manukas, The Resistance and The Settees .
Tickets are still available. Contact the venue for details:
by Rob Johnson (www.robwatchesmovies.com)