SIMON Fowler admits that he is in his element with the intimate shows he’s currently performing alongside Ocean Colour Scene bandmate Oscar Harrison.

“I’m a born show off,” he laughs. “I suppose it is my forté really. But then again. you can’t be aloof if you are from Birmingham!”

Simon and Oscar come to King George’s Hall, Blackburn, next Friday with the show which allows fans to enjoy songs from Ocean Colour Scene’s extensive back catalogue and to hear stories from the band’s career which currently spans some 34 years.

“We play the songs closer to the way they were written,” said Simon. “Most of the songs I wrote - and still write - just with an acoustic guitar and little Sony cassette player like the one you got for Christmas in 1972.

“I still use it now in fact. I managed to buy up Asda’s entire stock of cassettes about four years ago so I’ll be all right for a while.”

Songs such as The Day We Caught the Train and Riverboat Song combined with compelling live shows propelled Ocean Colour Scene to major stardom in the 1990s and the band remains a major draw. Later this year the full band will embark on a major UK tour following a series of summer festival dates.

“Oscar and I have a number of these intimate dates mapped out,” said Simon. “But Blackburn has always been an important place for us.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Simon and Oscar on stage                                                                                                                                                                                                   (Picture: Tony Briggs)

As well as performing stripped back versions of Ocean Colour Scene favourites, the intimate shows have allowed Simon the chance to delve into his massive back catalogue of songs.

Indeed the past 12 months have been a period of reflection. In December, the book One For the Road which he co-wrote with long time friend Daniel Rachel was published, featuring 69 hand selected songs, over 350 photographs, handwritten lyrics and reminiscences. And in March this year a special vinyl box set was released covering Ocean Colour Scene’s albums One From The Modern, Mechanical Wonder and North Atlantic Drift.

“Daniel is one of my oldest friends,” said Simon. “We grew up together and he was at school with my partner Robert and also with Steve Craddock (the Ocean Colour Scene guitarist).

“I don’t have a great memory about what we’ve done but Dan didn’t stay up late as much as me in the Nineties! He’s also a hoarder. We were in a band together long before Ocean Colour Scene and he’s got photos and cassettes going right back to when I was 20.

“There were songs I’d never heard before.

“With the book we’d get together in the morning and work through til lunch Then we’d go to the pub. I can guarantee that all the good stories were told later on down the pub. There were some of them I perhaps shouldn’t have told. I did try to exert a bit of self editing but perhaps not as much as I was expecting.”

Hearing songs he’d written so long ago proved an interesting experience for Simon.

“I remembered all the songs once I heard them; they instantly came back to me,” he said. “It was a real education, it was like listening to an A-Z of my influences which went from from Bowie to Bob Dylan and Neil Young to John Lennon.

“I think I’ve stopped trying to be David Bowie now,” he laughed. “But I do think that I’ve improved with age as a singer; my range is definitely better.”

Ocean Colour Scene recently teamed up with Alan Magee, the legendary music figure behind Oasis.

“I’m hoping that will be a bit of a springboard for us to regenerate as a band,” said Simon. “I don’t want us to become a heritage band.”

So does that mean a new album’s in the offing?

“Not quite,” he said. “I went to see Steve (Craddock) recently and we put down five tracks so it’s a start.”

In the meantime, OCS fans will have plenty to keep them going through the year, starting next week in Blackburn.

Simon and Oscar, King George’s Hall, Blackburn, Friday, May 19. Details from