During the mid-90s, the sound of Britpop music ruled the airwaves in the UK.
Almost twenty years later and four of the era’s most revered artists share the stage together once more in the North East of England.
The scene is an outdoor mini-festival in Times Square right in the heart of Newcastle whereby today Ocean Colour Scene, Shed 7, The Bluetones, and John Power of Cast are performing for a 5,000 strong crowd of Geordies looking to revisit their youth. That is not before a trio of North East based bands including Gallery Circus, Fletcher Jackson, and Hyde and Beast get the crowd warmed up early on in the afternoon.
It is often said that music can trigger memories that can take you right back to a certain time or place. It is most certainly the case for many of the thirty-somethings in the audience today reliving the glory days of their youth.
Joining John Power on stage is Cast band mate Jay Lewis. The duo delivers a stripped back acoustic set consisting of Power’s solo material interspersed with some of Cast’s greatest hits like “Alright,” “Sandstorm” and “Walk Away.” The latter of which results in a massive sing along from the Tyneside crowd.
The Bluetones immediately pick up from where John Power left off. The band are sounding as good if not better than they did back in the day. The Bluetones delve into their classic album, Expecting To Fly, with infectious numbers like “Cut Some Rug,” “Bluetonic” and “Slight Return” all going down particularly well.
Shed 7 make the short journey up the motorway from York to be here today. The band come out with all guns blazing as they launch into “She Left Me On Friday,” “Where Have You Been Tonight,” and the classic “Dolphin” early on in their set. Their high-octane show gets the crowd moving from the off particularly during the likes of “Disco Down.”
Chris Helme from The Seahorses joins Shed 7 on stage for a beautiful rendition of “High Hopes.” The band’s charismatic frontman Rick Witter exchanges banter with the audience and gets the crowd fired up ready for Ocean Colour Scene. “We are from the 90s” proclaims Witter, “Who remembers the 90s? I don’t” he remarks, much to their amusement.
It’s been 20 years since Ocean Colour Scene released their seminal record, Moseley Shoals. Back in 1996, this album was a prominent feature if everyone’s CD collection. To mark this landmark in the band’s history tonight, they will be performing the album in full.
As the band take to the stage they break into a cover of The Beatles classic “Daytripper” before getting straight to business with the task in hand.
Ocean Colour Scene walk us through track by track from their famed album, in order as they appear on the record. It ebbs and flows from the up-tempo “The Riverboat Song” and “You Got It Bad” through to the slower numbers like the beautiful “Lining Your Pockets,” whereby the crowd were hanging on every word. The atmospheric “Get Away” closes out the band’s main set and Moseley Shoals. The song really highlight’s Simon Fowler’s powerful vocal range, and Steve Craddock’s masterful wah infused guitar playing.
Fowler returns to the stage for a solo acoustic rendition of “Robin Hood” as the crowd join him in song. The rest of the band make a return to the stage and close out the show with a selection of material from their late 90s albums Marchin’ Already and One For The Modern.
OCS finish off the night in style with the frantic “Traveller’s Tune” and “Hundred Mile High City,” drummer Oscar Harrison delivering an incredible rhythmic groove.
Back in 1996, this bill could well have been the main stage at Glastonbury Festival. Throughout the course of the day, the audience were taken on a nostalgic walk down memory lane. Despite it being twenty years ago, the sound of Britpop music still sounds as fresh and relevant as it did in 90s.