Oceansize's discography has particular emotional resonance for me, corresponding as it did with certain milestones of my adolescence. Effloresce, for example, soundtracked my GCSEs, while Everyone Into Position alleviated a break-up, and Frames accompanied the beginning of university. Despite the fact that I'd held the band in such high regard for the best part of a decade, last Saturday was to the be the first time I would actually see them play live. In a way, I was almost nervous: even though their performances invariably receive glowing reviews, and I had enlisted the best possible company for the occasion (my brother; also a loyal fan), I was somehow anxious that, should every aspect of the experience not be perfect, then that rare combination of nostalgia, awe and inspiration that their songs can evoke in me would most certainly be shattered.
Of course, there are extraneous circumstances at gigs that you can't control, and inevitably, there was the tall drunk guy to my left who kept spilling his drink on me. But I really needn't have worried: Oceansize performed faultlessly, effortlessly engineering such a colossal sound that Brighton's sizeable Concorde 2 could well have been someone's living room. To say they sound as good as they do on record is a gauge of craftsmanship that here would be both lazy and irrelevant. Live, the intricacies as well as the impact of their ambitious soundscapes become all the more apparent, while the impressive range of Mike Vennart's voice can really be appreciated. The songs were delivered with enthusiasm and conviction, and without any of the pretension you might expect from a prog-rock band with such vision.
I haven't yet given recent release Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up the time an Oceansize album needs and deserves in order to be fully comprehended, but Saturday's show was a dazzling incentive. New tracks like Build Us A Rocket Then..., Pine and Silent/ Transparent resided comfortably alongside crowd-pleasers like Trail Of Fire and New Pin. It proved that while Oceansize have a definite trajectory in mind, they have no plans to abandon the heart-felt lyricism, soulful harmonies, and that predilection for a delicate melody as much as for a storming riff, that won their first album so many life-long fans. Closing the show with Music For A Nurse before returning with encore Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs confirmed that the band knew full well that they were performing for those very fans.
Words : Tegan Rogers