If you’re my age (34), and remember TFI Friday, it’s hard not to think of Reef without reciting “It’s your letters, it’s your letters” to the tune of Place Your Hands. Thankfully, on their return to Rock City after a lengthy hiatus, they reminded us all they have more than that in their arsenal.
Date: December 4, 2010
Venue: Rock City
Ok, let’s get the cliché out of the way early. Reef are one of those bands from whom you know more songs than you think you do. Their back catalogue, as opened tonight, reveals a well-stocked vault of riff-heavy blues-rock juggernauts and funk-fuelled behemoths.
Of course, there’s Place Your Hands, their most famous and universally acclaimed record.
From its first few guitar twangs to its fade out, it’s still monumental in stature, although the temptation to sing “it’s your letters” is almost overwhelming (thanks, TFI Friday), but anyone doing so would be insulting the song’s integrity.
Elsewhere, I would Have Left You comes on like a West Country version of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, easily out-funking the Californians, while Come Back Brighter is a chest-beating call to arms.
Summer’s in Bloom, meanwhile, is The Wurzels rocking out, Gary Stringer’s Somerset brogue clearly audible; his gruff voice a major ingredient of their overall sound.
Stringer himself looks exactly as he did back in the mid 90s, when the band first came to prominence. It’s like he’s been cryogenically frozen and thawed out 20 minutes before the gig.
While their survival won’t set the world on fire, there’s more than enough here to justify Reef’s continued existence.