REEF: Smile and the World Smiles with You – Central Station review:
Seeing a band live is always a gamble, be it the first or one-hundredth time pre-conceptions tend to rear their ugly head, add to this a pinch of nostalgia and expectations very quickly get out of hand.
When I heard that 90s alternative/rock band REEF were coming to Wrexham as part of their extensive 2016 tour, I was both excited and apprehensive in equal measures. Now I have always wanted to see the band perform live but what if they were like so many others from my youth, just going through the motions to top up their pensions… thankfully, I needn’t have worried!
Support act Desert Mountain Tribe were playing as I entered the building, not a band I have come across before but their original take on psychedelic rock seemed to go down well with the small but growing crowd. Well worth checking them out at http://www.desertmountaintribe.com.
It is just after 9pm when REEF enters the room to a very warm welcome. The venue is now close to capacity but there is no jostling for position, even a few meters away from the stage I have a good view of the action.
The band looked slightly uncomfortable at first under the very bright lighting, but the beauty of this paired back, intimate setting is you can see everything… including the massive smile that appears on lead singer Gary Stringer’s face as soon as the music starts.
As expected, the set consists of all the popular hits including Higher Vibration, Come Back Brighter, Naked and of course the legendary Place Your Hands. There is also an excellent cover of Paint It Black thrown in for good measure.
However, I wasn’t expecting to have my nostalgic flashback interrupted by some rather good new material. REEF are currently working on a studio album, the first since 2000’s Getaway and thankfully they are using this tour to hone their offering. The archetypal rock anthem Just Feel Love is a perfect example of just how much more REEF has to offer the UK music world.
Now at no point can I say the crowd went crazy, but this is by no means a judgement of the bands performance or the audience reaction, it is just a fact of life that most of us who jumped around like crazy fools in the 90’s tend to be a little bit more refined now.
My advice though, no matter your age, keep an eye out for the new album as it it promising to be well worth the wait.