The Ocean Blue Brings Its Timeless Dream Pop To Phoenix In Support of New LP ‘Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves’ (SHOW REVIEW)

When Hershey, Pennsylvania’s The Ocean Blue arrived with their self titled debut in 1989, and dead ringer British modern rock sound- perhaps they were a few years late to the party? Despite the polished formula on this debut that contained Echo and the Bunnymen references amongst standout songs -“Between Something And Nothing” and the sax-laden “Drifting, Falling – The Ocean Blue made strides on college radio and earned significant MTV airplay but never became dignitary names in the alternative scene. 1991’s Cerulean was another well-received album with “Ballerina Out of Control” and “Mercury” but then the four-piece got wrangled in the wave of the then-burgeoning U.S. alt/grunge scene taking over the mainstream. 

Yet quietly, The Ocean Blue led by lead vocalist/guitarist David Schelzel, guitarist Oed Ronne and bassist Bobby Mittan has managed to put out a steady stream of dream-pop albums from 1993 onward that have kept their good-sized fan base still interested. So come full circle, The Ocean Blue has created another wave of re-interest with 2019’s stellar Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves.

“We’re going to play a song off our new album,” said Schelzel six songs into The Ocean Blue’s sold-out July 27th 90 minute set at the Valley Bar in Phoenix, AZ. What might be another tired introduction of a band playing their new material, remarkably, the sold-out crowd roared in excitement. “I’m honestly surprised anybody still cares,” retorted Schnezel. 

Schelzel also poked fun at the 110 plus degree day proclaiming, “I never felt so toasty going to a show and in fact, it was negative 30 not too long ago while I was in Minneapolis which is a 130-degree temperature swing in six months.” Yes, the underground tiny venue under Phoenix’s concrete jungle was steamy, yet the band rocked it out old school club style. 

Schelzel, clean-shaven, trim with boyish looks, still brings a visual element of sorts to the songbook. New compositions “Kings and Queens” and “Paraguay My Love” held their own against the older material with their jangly guitars and new romantic era leaning vocals. While the early era Ocean Blue sax was missing from the mix, Ronne laid down some sublime dream pop keyboard flourishes. 1993’s “Sublime” was a hard-charging mid-set please that contained more new-wave leanings that fans of The Cure’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me would lap up. 

“Ask Me John” contained some OB classic “Ee-oh ee-oh ee-ohs” before merging into “The Love Boat” theme cleverly and full proof. Yet the encore wrapped things up on a high note with the powerful and familiar “Between Something and Nothing.” While predictable for any new-wave leaning band, The Ocean Blue nailed a short yet sweet version of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” This is a song I’ve always wanted to cover but I’ve been scared to do,” admitted Schelzel.

While The Ocean Blue deserves one more shot to hit the big time, in the meantime they are still satisfying long-time fans with quality shows a choice new album. Not bad at all for a band about to enter its fifth decade.

The Ocean Blue Setlist Valley Bar, Phoenix, AZ, USA 2019


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One Response

  1. My buddy and I were here in Phx for T.O.B. and it was incredible. We are going to try to catch up w them at both LA and Salt Lake later this year. Worth it! Cannot believe the quality of Kings & Queens – feel like I did back at 18 when a new album was out. Havent felt that it a good long time. Hope these guys finally hit it BIG.

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