Reef & Broken Witt Rebels, Tramshed Cardiff
Everytime 90's Brit rockers Reef have played anywhere near me I seem to withere be away, working or at something else on the same night. Thankfully there was nothing stopping me from heading to the Cardiff date on their Revelation tour this time around. Having just the one support band meant a late start but as the room swelled to capacity the four souls tasked with warming everyone up stode onto the stage picked up their old school instruments and began with a blues-drenched fury.
Hailing from Birmingham (UK) the four piece blues machine that is Broken Witt Rebels (9) play the music of Birmingham (Alabama) infused with rump shaking grooves right down to their core, the rhythm section of Luke Davies and James Dudley get the body moving none more so than vocalist Danny Core who writhes with every single beat and hot tasty licks from James Tranter. Coming out of the gates with some bluesy rocking of Loose Change it was hot and sweaty work from band who have certainly perfected their craft every motion was choreographed to perfection as Core traded in his tambourine for a guitar allowing the band to really rock it up. With a sound not too dissimilar to Rival Sons the mix of alternative, blues even jangling indie it's the vocals of Core that really hook you, he's got the most whiskey soaked voice I've ever heard, raw and full of passion even when riffing his pipes left my gig partner open mouthed. Broken Witt Rebels are one of the bands tagged with 'ones to watch' status and for once I'm in agreement, a heavy gauntlet to lay down for the Bristol based rockers.
One of the bands that were part of that 90's Britrock school, Reef (8) have left a legacy of stone cold hits that are repeated on DAB & FM radio ad nauseum, just count how many times you've heard Place Your Hands, Come Back Brighter, Naked and Yer Old and you'll see that I'm right. Now these hits were nicely dispersed throughout their set with Place Your Hands coming as the tenth song just before Revelation from their glorious most recent album of the same name, opening with Naked and Stoned For Your Love it was a pretty raucous way to get the faithful and part-timers on board before exploring the wider reaches of their career. Soulful, blues based and knowing when to rock they are a live five-piece consisting of founder members Gary Stringer who's voice hasn't changed at all in all these years, his gravelly tones are still perfect for blasts of gospel such as How I Got Over and the brilliant Lone Rider while Jack Bessant's wizard like form stalked the stage cranking out the thick bass riffs.
They're joined by Jesse Wood on guitar who is cool, calm and collected peeling off licks like nobody's business flanked by their live keyboard player and drummer (founding drummer Dominic Greensmith left the band recently). The years of live performances meant they were a polished unit and playing to a devotee audience had them feeding off the crowd Stringer especially getting involved with the front row at times. I'm happy to have seen Reef and they were brilliant despite one or two of their fans being absolute pains in the arse the whole shebang was a great throwback but with enough newer material to remind you that they have plenty more in the tank.