Glastonbury’s finest alternative foursome, Reef returned to London last night for what was to be their final show before the outfit return to their studio dwellings to piece together studio album number 5 of their 20+ year career on the British indie scene, and their first full-length release since 2000’s Getaway.
The band, led by long haired and raspy voiced front-man Gary Stringer were in high spirits from start to end of their 90 minute set. Held within the intimate settings of The Flamingo Room, a stones throw from Leicester Square in the heart of the capitals West End, the setting was a far cry from the bands usual festival stomping ground or the likes of much larger venues where an act like Reef would usually exercise their musicianship with ease but it turned out to be the perfect space for the rockers to deliver a fairly memorable show to some very happy punters.
Going by their most recent material and the songs chosen to form last nights set, it seemed quite clear the band are venturing deeper into bluesy territory with gospel hymn How I Got Over being a clear dominator early on in their performance and unleashed with a touch more enthusiasm than the bands more indie-pop dressed repertoire. Given the band are about to head back into the studio to record new material, I had anticipated a show that leaned more toward the bands back catalogue but was instead met by a pub-style gig that was mostly overwhelmed with the bands preferred American blues drenched numbers and style than their more successful mainstream output so there were large parts of the set that did feel rather foreign. But the lack of chart hits didn’t stop the crowd from really getting into it; the whole front section were readily available with fist pumps or well rehearsed vocal throw backs to Stringer who strutted the stage like the seasoned performer he has matured into over the past 20+ years.
I’ve often found that shows of a smaller scale allow fans to feel more connected to a band and with an attendance of what looked like around 450-500, The Flamingo Room certainly allowed for an up close and personal experience for the fans that filled the venue; Stringer occasionally passing his mic to some of the front row revelers to help him sing through a chorus here and there.
Being up the front in the mosh pot among the fans as opposed to being surrounded by relentlessly chatty industry types who lined the back of the venue was certainly a decision worth making if you had attended last nights performance. The fun was at the front as the band prowled through a set full of twang-fueled additions like My Sweet Love with is bluesy guitar licks and Woodstock-esque vibe and psychedelic opener, Just Feel Love.
Some of the bands earlier works found a nesting spot within the set-list with the outfits 1997 number one album, Glow receiving the most attention. Come Back Brighter and Higher Vibration filled early set slots and had everyone in the venue bouncing along with the foursome while the bands most successful hit, Place Your Hands, gifted the night with its highlight and an injection of familiarity to those casual Reef fans in the crowd. Don’t You Like It saw the big-voiced front-man climbing onto the venue bar and performing the track while trying his hardest not to hit his head on the impressively Flamingo Room low ceiling. Even tracks like Consideration where Stringer admitted “I haven’t always enjoyed singing this song” washed over the crowd well as he delivered it with precision and conviction.
While the set may have lacked many of the 90’s and early 00’s hits that we had hoped to hear during the set, Reef were on top form as a band and it was clear they had won over a Flamingo Room crowd who were content to dip their toes in something a little different with their favourite Brit rockers.
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