Reef + Mother Vulture live @ the Depo,
Plymouth - 25th May 2023

This may not have been my first-time seeing Reef (I think I’m two stamps away from a free gig on my loyalty card) but it was my first time at the Depo in Plymouth and the venue didn’t disappoint with either the d├ęcor or the vibe which were both conducive to a night of rock’n’roll. Another first for me was finally catching rising stars of the rock scene Mother Vulture who only added to the atmosphere. You might have been forgiven for thinking that the packed crowd were waiting for the main event but look a little closer and you’d see the liberal smattering of Mother Vulture T-shirts and fans singing along showing that the band were a shrewd booking as support act. Although slightly restricted by the stage, the black-clad lads still exuded energy and showed why they are one of the most hotly tipped live acts on the scene right now, so I’ll definitely be back for more.

Now, I thought I’d timed a tactical pre-gig wee to perfection but in mid flow I heard (and felt) the opening strains of ‘Shoot Me Your Ace’ rumble through the venue and I did my best to make it back into the venue without spraying anyone – it’s the perfect set opener full of thundering rock’n’roll intentions and Gary Stringer’s trademark roaring vocals letting everyone know that the show has started. What followed was a confident, strutting and uplifting set taking in tracks from each of the band’s albums including the likes of ‘Give Me Your Love’, ‘I Would Have Left You’, ‘Consideration’, ‘Right On’, ‘Best Of Me’, ‘Naked’ (from debut album 'Replenish') and ‘Don’t You Like Me When I’m High?’. Of course, there was an eruption of energy for the band’s stand out hit ‘Place Your Hands’ but there was a general feeling of euphoria and songs like ‘Refugee’ and ‘Come Back Brighter’ got the crowd stomping just as much. Personal favourite ‘Summer’s In Bloom’ made a welcome appearance with a bone shaking bass line and stories of younger days growing up in Somerset.

Although Stringer and bassist Jack Bessant keep the light burning from the original line up, the crucial guitar duties were taken on by long-time collaborator Amy Newton and it was great to see a woman rocking out in such a male dominated arena. Newton’s chops were put to the test (which she passed with flying colours) on an encore featuring songs like ‘Good Feeling’, ‘Yer Old’ and ‘End’ bringing the show to a climactic close. Reef have still got it, of that there is no doubt, but did they ever lose it? Well, based on this career spanning set which was wall-to-wall bangers, I don’t think they ever did. And, judging by the smiles on their faces as they left the stage with their arms in the air, they ain’t stopping any time soon.

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