Interview: Reef

Victoria LeggettReef were a part of the 1990s music scene, and their biggest hit, Place Your Hands, still a nostalgic favourite of that period. Now, having split in 2003, they're back fo4r a handful of live date, including one in Norwich.Further listening: ReefVictoria Leggett

Reef were a part of the 1990s music scene, and their biggest hit, Place Your Hands, still a nostalgic favourite of that period. Now, having split in 2003, they're back. VICTORIA LEGGETT spoke to lead singer Gary Stringer.

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For many they were as much a part of the 1990s music scene as the Brit-pop rivalry between Blur and Oasis. Now, seven years after they last performed together and with biggest hit Place Your Hands still a firm fixture on every student-night DJ's set list, Glastonbury rockers Reef are back for six nostalgia-laden gigs.

And with festival dates this summer already being tagged onto the original tour - which hits Norwich this weekend - lead singer Gary Stringer isn't ruling out a long-term reunion.

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The group split in 2003 after five albums, countless live shows and a decade living in each other's pockets.

Gary, who helped form the original line-up, including Jack Bessant, Kenwyn House and Dominic Greensmith, says it had reached a point where they all needed their own space.

He says: 'We had a right old laugh - we were a gang, really quite tight - but the last nine months it started to get a little bit like work. Like all things good and bad, they had run their natural course and it was time to take a rest.'

Since then each member has gone his own way - some forming new bands and playing news songs - while some of their best known hits continue to be played on the radio and at club nights across the country.

But last autumn, having got together for a curry for the first time in years, the four-piece decided it was time tunes like Come Back Brighter were given an airing once again.

Agreeing to reform for a six-date tour was an easy decision to make, according to the group's lead singer who was looking forward to hanging out with his old friends, blasting out some old favourites and returning to some favourite venues.

'We went to Norwich at least three times. You feel like you can see all the 1,500 people there and feel them. It's a great room,' he says. 'It's going to be a good feeling for a week.'

Even before rehearsals began, the singer was feeling confident the group would quickly settle back in together.

'We won't take it for granted, we will do a good month's warm-up, but I should think it will be like the old times,' he says. 'I think we were an amazing live band. We were great, really got the crowd going.'

Part of that confidence comes from the great response the band has received since announcing the tour back in November.

Fans have posted their delight at having a chance to see their favourite band perform live once more all over the internet.

Gary says he had not realised just how much they had been missed.

He says: 'I had pretty much put it out of my mind and moved on. I thought 'now it's time for something different',' he says.

But while he and the other band members began new projects - like Gary and bass player Jack's new band Them is Me - the fans pined.

The vocalist says: 'If you stick Reef into YouTube you will find a lot of people who the music means a lot to because they grew up with it. People met at the gigs and had some wicked experiences. It made me feel really special.'

The set this weekend will be sure to appeal to those followers who have been around since first album Replenish was released in 1995 - although Gary hopes a few new faces will be drawn in, too.

He says: 'We're not going to do a really obscure jam for an hour and a half. We will play all the hits.'

Following the brief reunion, which ends in Manchester on April 24, they are set to go their separate ways once again.

But already the original six-date tour has been extended to include the Isle of Wight festival in June, leading to an obvious question - could they be back for good?

Gary is keeping his cards close to his chest. He says: 'Because [the gigs] have sold so well, we have already had festivals come in. After that we'll have to suck it and see.

'I would never say never.'

t Reef play the UEA on April 18.

Further listening: Reef