Towards the end of 2013, on 30th November, one of the biggest musical events of the year took place in Moscow. It was the return of an iconic Russian group.

The Coral Reefs (in Russian it’s Korallovie Reefiy) are Russia’s and Eastern Europe’s greatest swing and neo-swing band. Their repertoire includes a large dose of rock’n’roll. On 17th November 2012 they performed a farewell concert in Moscow. I was at that concert and ran a dance class at the start of the show. The reason for the farewell was that the main stars of the band decided to form a new group “Via Gagry”, in a new musical style. This style was very different to that of the Reefs. The best way to describe the “Gagry” sound to UK readers, is to say it’s more traditionally Russian. The name Gagry is derived from the name of a popular tourist resort in the south during the years of the Soviet Union – it was a symbol of vacationing, fun and retro romance !

This past year has been a successful one for Via Gagry. Their concerts in Russia have been well attended and this new musical venture has been a big success. However, in October this year we heard the good news ………. The Coral Reefs were returning !

Those with good memories may remember the article I wrote in my “Russia’n’Roll” column back in the October 2012. That article described how big the Reefs were in Russia. Since then the line-up of the band has undergone change, but the essential elements are still there. Kir Sukhomlinov, the band’s leader and vocalist, is still the main driving force on stage. Mikhail Deryabin, the only original member of the Reefs when the group began in 1998, remains the creator of their own compositions. After 6 years, in 2004 the musical style of the band changed, to what we in Russia recognise as the Coral Reefs’ sound today. Their line-up features keyboards, lead guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, trombone, saxophone and drums.

I have one qualm. The fabulously beautiful Eleanora Ayrapetyan, their former bass guitarist, is no longer in the line-up. What a shame – with her stunning looks (as well as her instrumental skills), she added an important element to the group. But I guess you can’t have everything. The rise and increase of more female personnel in rock’n’roll groups is an issue maybe for a future discussion. But long may it continue to grow I say, especially if they are anywhere near as gorgeous to look at as Eleanora !

The concert took place at the Radio City Club, one of the most well known in Moscow. Once again I ran a dance class at the start of the show. Then to a packed house (and I mean packed) on stage, it was the return of the Reefs ! Better than ever, they rocked the joint from start to finish. Plus, a pleasant surprise was a change in their style; even more rock’n’roll oriented than before – “that’ll do for me, Tommy”, as Bobby Ball used to say ! The vast majority of their set comprised their own compositions.

Overall it was a night to be remembered. To give you an idea of just how good the Reefs are, you can go to their web-site at and click on the video link.

Welcome back to the Coral Reefs – keep on rockin’ the joint, guys ! Richard Hume