It’s nearly twenty years ago today that OCS came here to debut their career-defining album Moseley Shoals. It was 2011 when Brum Live twice reviewed their retrospective celebration of its impact on the Britpop scene. A nomenclature they never really endorsed though.
A few things have happened since then. Steve Craddock’s become noted for his post-gig, guerrilla-style dee-jaying. Foxy Fowler has his ongoing genteel interbellum with the Merrymouth project. And now, they’ve acquired the youthful virtuosity of bassist, Raymond Meade — it’s seriously reinvigorated their mastery of the stage dynamic. Meade’s a musician who surely was umbilically drip-fed GM rhythm.
And, light-sabers for sticks, Drum-dude, Oscar Harrison? Oscar operates behind his perma-stealth shades on a strictly needs to know basis — basically, you need to know not to ask him.
Reassuringly, there’s still a smattering of geezers sporting their Modfather feathered barnets, albeit a tad greyer and thinner. They’re a clannish lot the OCS contingent. Loyal to a fault, rebels without the claws, ready to man the barricades for a worthy cause, albeit most likely the annual Mod scooter rally kick-off from St. Andrews. Both Oscar and Steve mingle with the crowd pre-set availing themselves for numerous celeb/selfies.
It’s an 800 capacity, long time sell out and seriously rammed. The set list speaks for itself, twenty-two carat nuggets of crowd swaying, chorus crammed nostalgia. ‘Policemen & Pirates’ still has its acid-edgy lyrics driven by a beat so hardcore a bulldog humping a locomotive might use it for a metronome. ‘Profit In Peace’ with its anthemic, crie de cour ‘We don’t want to fight no more!’ is still as apposite as it ever was sincere. And didn’t young Raymond Meade blister his fingers with those scorching bass arpeggios as ‘You Got It Bad’ went nuclear. Fowler name-checks two Kings Heath bastions of stability that succored his creative fires in the mid 1990s. Namely Mr. Booze and Ruprai Wines. He also salutes Dave Travis and sends love to Paul Murphy. Returning after the main set closed with a tear-jerking sing-along to Travellers Song, there’s moment’s concern when Mr. Fowler reports that Oscar’s suffered a groin strain and the encore’s decidedly iffy. So, he takes us on an acoustic stroll down the leafy lanes of ‘Robin Hood’ reminiscences. The evening climaxes with the best ever riff from Satan’s worst hangover, ‘100 Mile High City’. Reports that Oscar sat on an ice bucket for this one cannot be confirmed.
Day We Caught The Train
Lining Your Pockets
40 Past Midnight
One For The Road
It’s My Shadow
Policemen & Pirates
You’ve Got It Bad, Get Away
Foxy’s Folk Face (solo)
Profit In Peace
I Wanna Stay Alive With You
Get Blown Away
100 Mile High City
Here’s just one measure of why OCS still maintain such tribal loyalty both home and away. This reviewer meets SF in Mr. Booze and he’s blagging 67p to buy a bottle of Strongbow, I oblige. This was a time when everything following the first album that hadn’t gone down the toilet was been carved up by the suits. It’s 1996, Moseley Shoals goes mega and I call in to see him to congratulate. I joke about the 67p. He apologised for not having any change on him but offers my son two tickets for the Main Road Oasis gig instead.
Many thanks to – Chris Craddock, Dave Travis & Susan Buckler + sound-maestro, Marco.
Words: John Kennedy
Photograph – PR