“Stronger and better” is how rockers Reef are being described following the arrival of Mr Fearne Cotton on guitar.
It is not meant to be disrespectful to former guitarist Kenwyn House, who was with the band throughout its success in the 1990s, but more a nod to the fresh impetus the line-up change has given to the West Country quartet.
Kenywn left the band in 2014, to concentrate on his new group Goldray, and has been replaced by Jesse Wood, son of Rolling Stones legend Ronnie Wood and husband of TV and radio presen ter Fearne.
Frontman Gary Stringer says: “We’ve got a fresh burst of energy, since Jesse joined, a new dynamic – that mix up has been good creatively.
“Kenwyn was with us in 2010, we did a sold-out tour, again in 2013, and then festivals.
“However, we wanted to start making new music, but Kenwyn wasn’t keen on it.
“Now we have got a new member and it feels fantastic.
“It was Kenywyn’s decision to step aside.
“He said ‘if you want to make new music, I will stop’. It was pretty amicable, but it does feel like a new beginning for the band.”
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Reef began in 1993 when Gary and bassist Jack Bessant were looking for band members and met Kenywn and drummer Dominic Greensmith, who were in a similar position.
They spent much of 1994 touring and building up fans, before securing a record deal.
Debut album Replenish was a top-10 hit following its release in June 1995, spawning hit singles Good Feeling and Naked.
The follow-up, 1997’s Glow, was a number-one smash and spawned hit singles Yer Old, Consideration and Come Back Brighter, as well as the track which has become synonymous with the band – as well as a popular anthem on TV show TFI Friday – Place Your Hands.
After splitting in 2003, they reformed in 2010 and are enjoying a nationwide resurgence.
“We’re back on the road, all this month, into April,” says Gary.
“We’ve done many summer festivals since 2010, when we first came back again, and this year is the same – it’s going to be a good summer.
New releases include a live album recorded over two sell-out nights at St Ives in Cornwall, as well as a new single, a cover of Aretha Franklin gospel classic How I Got Over.
“I feel the band is in a great place,” says Gary.
“We had nine top-40 songs and I am really proud of that, but I want to carry on doing new stuff.
“I don’t want to just be a heritage band, although we could be making a decent living playing 10 to 12 shows a year.”
Despite the desire to test out new stuff on fans – “we play some new songs on the set and we’ve been doing this a while, so we can hear what people like” – Gary admits there is always a place for Reef classics in their sets.
“We’ll always play Place Your Hands, of course,” he says.
“It’s about throwming them out there, putting smiles in people’s faces.
“I always enjoy playing it live.
“That song has been the difference in my life – I have got a family to support and that song has kept bread on the table.
“If that’s the song that people know, then that’s a way into people, a way to connect with people.
“I never hear it being played and think ‘that’s rubbish’ – it sounds great.”
Just like Reef as a band right now.
* Reef play Plug, Matilda Street, Sheffield city centre, on Saturday, March 19. Support comes from Hidden Charms.
For tickets, priced from £17.50, visit www.the-plug.com