London WC2 Astoria

...That [a]Reef[/a] are a dumbo, derivative rock combo is a truth so banal as to be almost unworthy of repeating....

London WC2 Astoria

Tread carefully and avoid direct eye-contact, children, they could break into 'Freebird' at any moment.

That Reef are a dumbo, derivative rock combo is a truth so banal as to be almost unworthy of repeating. That, with their penchant for rawk histrionics, they are additionally nearly as silly as Weller and Ocean Colour Scene would in principle place them fairly high up in the list of best forgotten phenomena of the '90s.

Strange then that for this hour-and-a-half Reef make such an implausibly good case for being Britain's greatest rock'n'roll band. The songs still trundle inexpertly from the trite ('Come Back Brighter') to the plain awful ('New Bird'), but, good Lord, they have fun. Gary Stringer at one point seems to be administering a draught pack of cider unto the masses while bassist Jack Bessant, his forefinger almost permanently raised in a gesture of rock communion, has to be forcefully restrained from leaping into the audience at the end of every song.

Thus, in a sense that eschews subtlety, scorns invention and crinkles its brow in bemusement at the mere thought of musical evolution, Reef are the epitome of all that is good about rock'n'roll: dumb fun.

In the end it took an aircrash to wipe out Lynyrd Skynyrd; on this form, surely only global thermo-nuclear apocalypse could do for Reef.

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