Post-2003, Reef’s vital signs all but flat-lined. But last May saw Jesse Wood replace Kenwyn House on guitar and now they return in rude, hairy health. Singer Gary Stringer has a beard like a badger, while bassist Jack Bessant would pass for a Yeti in the Himalayas at dusk.
They start tentatively with slow-burners – so far, so good. Then their most heartfelt song, Consideration, starts a small fire, followed by the major blaze of Place Your Hands. After that it’s a pyromaniac sprint to last song Yer Old. They are too, but still burning bright.
Six years after Thunder bid a sad farewell, the band are back from the dead with perhaps their best album ever. After a big-screen blast of 70s imagery to an intro tape of Edgar Winter’s Frankenstein, the title track of Wonder Days turns the Hammersmith clock back in so many ways. The 16-song set splits across a 1995 watershed, with six from the new album (not least the stunning Resurrection Day) all going down a storm alongside half-a-dozen from their first two to plant Thunder triumphantly in the here and now. Great, also, to see guitarist Ben Matthews looking so well after his illness. The Odeon hasn’t seen a crowd response like this since the Frantic Four. A definite contender for Gig Of The Year, already.