Fibbers, York // Monday, November 6, 2017
The room is packed. And I mean PACKED. The crush began literally a few feet from the entrance and the anticipation from the army of EMBRACE fans crammed into the intimate Fibbers in York was palpable.
Embrace are somewhat of an oddity these days. Some may unfairly see the band as somewhat irrelevant in the current indie scene – their ‘glory days’ (which scored them five Top 10 albums) were well over a decade ago – but those in the know are well aware of how significant the Yorkshire five-piece still are.
No longer the indie darlings of mainstream music press, they continue to deliver MASSIVE anthems destined for stadiums – in fact, only a few months before this 600-capacity show, Embrace were playing to tens of thousands at Cardiff Stadium supporting their old pals Coldplay.
After a lengthy hiatus, the band returned with the self-titled album in 2014, a powerhouse of bold and brooding electro-fused bangers – quite the departure from their classic post-Britpop indie vibes.
And tonight, we’re taken back to those big anthem sounds as Embrace showcase new tunes from their upcoming seventh album, Love is A Basic Need (due out next March) as well as a wealth of big hitters.
The band are full of vitality tonight, as they open with the glorious All You Good Good People, which stills sounds as fresh as it did 20 years ago. Start as you mean, to go on, lads…
The title track from their upcoming album is a rousing call to arms, a soaring chorus gets the crowd singing along – as does recent single The Finish Line. It’s all arms-aloft devotion from floor – and from the stage as frontman Danny McNamara reaches out, mic in hand, to the sea of fans below him.
Wake Up Call (the video for which is being filmed tonight) is a slow-building, stirring tune, bursting into life as Danny exclaims “I’m Wide Awake,” to the crowd’s delight. Twinkling guitar picks from brother Richard and string arrangements by keyboard player Mickey balance the delicate with the pounding bass and drums as the song lifts.
Never reveals more of Danny’s fragile voice as he duets with stunning singer Eevah (who’s been working in the studio with Richard McNamara recently), cymbals crash and those string arrangements swell around the pair for a stand-out encore tune.
As much as their new tunes are greedily digested by their One Big Family fans, it’s Embrace’s hits that get leave them satisfied. The tender Wonder gets a very welcome outing for the first time in over ten years while staple setlisters Come Back To What You Know and The Good Will Out prove to be as fresh-sounding as they were back when the band were in their prime.
The band and their fans may be getting longer in the tooth, but the atmosphere in Fibbers tonight fizzes with a youthful excitement as Embrace prove they’re not ones to rest on their laurels. Despite a good blast of nostalgia tonight, their set very much looks forward, with more tunes aired from their new album than any others.
We’re looking forward to seeing them again in less confined spaces next Spring. We’ll keep you posted.