No, they’re not building an artificial reef in the Newquay Bay, but rather more excitingly the West Country alternative surf-rock band Reef turned up to play a gig on Sunday 29th May.
If you live in Newquay, are over the age of 28, have ever picked up a surfboard or have ever sat around a campfire somewhere on a beach or in a field in the West Country you’ll probably be familiar with Reef. During their heyday in the mid-late 90’s, they were touted as one of the best live rock acts in the UK; that’s pretty much as good a recommendation as any band could ever wish to have.
Anyway, Reef have been very quiet / split up for years. Still that didn’t stop half of Newquay packing in tight on the sand at Lusty Glaze beach to see these gods perform one more time. As soon as they kicked off with the opener and classic ‘Come Back Brighter’ 2,000 fans were instantly reminded of what we’ve been missing for the last ten years. Stringer’s gravel throated howl sound as awesome as it does on CD, Kenwyn House’s guitar was as raw as we remembered it and the rhythm section of Dominic Greensmith and Jack Bessant (drums, bass) gave the heavy depth of sound that you just don’t hear in rock music these days.
The boys kept to the classics that made them stand outs among the Britpop 90’s scene, ‘Consideration’, ‘Lately Stomping’ and ‘Yer Old’ from sophomore album ‘Glow’ had the place in total meltdown. I’ve seen people losing it at gigs before but this was pretty nuts. Stringer and the boys seemed thrive on this unhinged primal energy and you could see they were loving it with Stringer thanking the audience after each song as chants of ‘Reef Reef Reef Reef’ rang around the high cliffs of Lusty Glaze.
The high point of the set was the spikey-rock of ‘Naked’ (Sony Mini-Disc advert) from debut LP ‘Replenish’ and a few derranged soulds were carted off by security for crowd surfing. The rain was lashing down and that just seemed to whip the crowd into more of a frenzy. Personally I would love to have heard a couple of tracks from ‘Getaway’, but I get the impression the band kind of disowned that album if the last track ‘I don’t know what they will do’ is anything to go by…
It was great to see this awesome band as tight as ever, sure Reef are not the young upstarts they were but 15 years down the road they are lean and in fighting weight with a muscular, punchy sound that I think most bands today would give their left knackers to try and get close to. A good few bands are coming through Cornwall these days what with the Boardmasters and SAS BAll (Newton Faulkner, Seasick Steve, Example, Xavier Rudd, Kooks) but a night with Reef left me feeling that we’ve slowly been settling for less over the years….
I just hope that Reef keep the momentum up and set up a few more gigs from now on!