Reef – O2 ABC, Glasgow – 15/11/13

Reef-Setlist-GlasgowTonight was one of those unusual gig nights for me. Do you ever have those ones where you just can’t really be bothered with it because you know exactly what you’re going to get? As Reef wandered on stage to applause from a reasonably sized crowd and got straight into appropriately titled opener ‘Back In My Place’, I remembered what it was I always get from a Reef gig; some mighty fine music.

Reef have been on the go for an astonishing twenty years but although in that time they haven’t generated a prolific discography, it’s the everlasting, often anthemic quality of the majority of their songs that have ensured that they still have a popular following even if they haven’t achieved as much as other bands have in the same time window.

What amazes me most is that over twenty years singer Gary Stringer doesn’t appear to have changed at all whilst bassist Jack Bessant has continued his slow metamorphosis into a yeti. I think there may be some sort of Picture of Dorian Gray magic going on here, but I wasn’t there for the looks (although many of the ladies in the audience likely were). I was there for the sounds, and they were as magical as ever. Surprisingly, fan favourite ‘Place Your Hands’ came mid-way when I would have expected it to be a big bang closer, although with the double whammy of ‘Naked’ and ‘Yer Old’ as two of the three songs to round off the pre-encore segment, they ably did that job instead.

There were a couple of misfires though, the first being a new song which had been written for a movie soundtrack.  The crowd didn’t seem to be that fussed about new material and so the ambient chat increased in the room. Personally I’d like to hear a new album, particularly because they sound as fresh as they ever have, although the song itself wasn’t all that hot. The encore was also a bit unusual as the band opted for slower songs and didn’t round it off with a big number. I think it would have worked better if they’d have played ‘Superhero’ or ‘Set The Record Straight’, for example, in place of one of the ‘bigger’ songs that came earlier in the set, and rounded the night off with that instead.

Regardless of minor niggles, Reef are a great band, and even if they don’t come up with that new album I’d so like to hear, I’ll still be queuing to see them strut their stuff again. I may have started the night off in a bit of a mood, but I left with a smile having had a great night, and in the end that’s all I could ask for.

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