Where James Brown meets Jim Morrison

Related Topics
"THERE WILL be no support act for tonight's show," announced the poster tacked to the wall of the Hemel Hempstead Pavilion, "as Terence is performing for two and a half hours." Crumbs. Surely this is a warning to make even the hardiest Terence Trent D'Arby fan tremble. It might have been simpler if the poster had just said: "For every 'Wishing Well' or 'If You Let Me Stay' Terence will also play a polite, easily ignorable, MOR ditty."

Still, things started well, with two vibrant songs from D'Arby's latest album, Vibrator (Columbia). The title track and the equally demure "Supermodel Sandwich" are both dynamic funk rockers that would do Prince proud. (I know you're sick of the comparison, Terence. Gene are sick of being called Smiths copyists, too, but it doesn't make it any less true.) The band are agile and distinct, though their most impressive instrument is D'Arby's voice - which incorporates the best bits from Michael Jackson and James Brown. This is especially helpful when applied to lyrics that incorporate the worst bits from Jim Morrison. On the cocktail ballad "If You Go Be-fore Me", D'Arby trilled: "One day in the spring a question fell/ And went straight through me/ Do bleeding angels sing when close to tears?" "No bleeding idea, Terry," is the obvious reply; none the less, his superb vocal technique has you entering the Sobbing Seraphim Debate despite yourself.

He does the splits, he jump-kicks, he swivels his hips with a blurred speed that makes the young Elvis Presley look like - well, the old Elvis Presley. He peels off his top and his sculpted pecs remind that you really should go to the gym more often. Add this physique to his smirks, his poses, his green flares, gold shoes, and Gazza/Robbie bleached crop, and the evidence of his infam- ous narcissism seems undeniable. On the other hand, which is more egotistical: the scruffy band who shuffle their way through their set with a bore- dom they've copied from The Jesus and Mary Chain, or the showman who has worked out, dressed up, and put on a performance of extraordinary flair and stamina - and all for Hemel Hempstead?

Under the pretentious patina, D'Arby is an old-fashioned entertainer and a lustrous star. He is courteous to his crowd, and he explains that the length of the show is intended "to give you your money's worth". If only he knew that a great show lasting 75 minutes is worth more than a good show lasting 150.

There are those who attribute Reef's commercial success to a commercial. The West Country four-piece featured in last year's TV advert for Sony Mini-Discs, and, although it didn't do Mini-Discs much good, it encouraged enough people to buy Reef's debut album, Replenish (Sony, naturally) to take it to No 9.

And every one of these fans, it seemed, was squashed into London's claustrophobic Astoria 2 club on Wednesday. It was less a show, more a wet T-shirt competition, with your clothes being soaked not only with your own sweat, but also with the steaming, slimy secretions of the dozen adolescents pressed up against you. As unpleasant concert experiences go, it's not quite Altamont, but it's not far off.

Whether all this smelly teen spirit can be put down to one advert is doubtful. The thing is, it can't really be ascribed to Reef's serviceable, circa-1970 hard rock either. You can admire the jazz-funky syncopation of Gary Stringer's raw-throated yell; and Kenwyn House (the guitarist, not the National Trust property) packs a punch. It's just a pity that these assets don't have any fresh songs to support them.

Reef's success, then, owes a lot to their being good-looking and tirelessly enthusiastic. In a world of lethargic indie kids whose shoe-gazing is actually a boon because it prevents you seeing their faces, Reef are well-scrubbed and square-jawed, with rufflable hair and tight little guitar riffs. Bassist Jack "Keanu Reef" Bessant jumps and grins as if he can't believe he's in a famous rock band. I know how he feels, because I can hardly believe it myself. He and his colleagues look more like the most popular members of their university boat club, who have got together at the end-of-term ball to play their favourite tunes: Lenny Kravitz, Spin Doctors, Black Crowes and Free (of which Reef is a co-incidental - they promise - anagram). Fun for an evening, but whether you'd want to listen to Reef the following term is a knotty question.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Nursery Assistants RequiredNursery Assis...

Supply Teachers needed in Bolton!

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

English Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIREDWe are ...

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger  

Will Cuddlr do for hugging what Tinder and Grindr did for sex?

Jessica Brown Jessica Brown
Retail store Joy has sparked a social media backlash with its response to a customer who said one of its cards is offensive to people with bipolar  

Hey Joy, mocking people with bipolar isn't funny — it's offensive

Ellabell Risbridger
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments