There is almost the sense of the evangelical at an Embrace gig: there is a loyalty, a passion and fervour amongst the fan-base that is just about unequalled; it often gives the evening a religious-like zeal, and that is certainly in evidence tonight.
As soon as Danny McNamara strides on stage, he’s conducting the crowd, shadow boxing and punching the air. The band’s new album is a top 5 chart hit and it’s clear that tonight will be a celebration.
It says something for the longevity and consistency of Embrace that the opening four tracks tonight span four different albums and over 20 years of recordings, yet each is as well-received as the last. Opening with the anthemic ‘Wake Up Call’ from that new record, it slips in seamlessly with singalong classics like ‘All You Good Good People’ and recent crowd favourite, ‘Follow You Home’.
Danny challenges the audience to be even louder than the previous night’s boisterous tour opener in Glasgow, and the packed crowd respond – bellowing out ‘Come Back to What You Know’ and bouncing frenetically to ‘Save Me’ and ‘One Big Family’.
Danny’s brother, Richard, takes over vocal duties for a mid-set spell of introspection; ‘Where You Sleeping?’ has an aching vulnerability and ‘Refugees’ is driven along by his stunning guitar work.
The older McNamara brother returns to the stage to perform the title-track from the new album with ‘Love Is a Basic Need’ emblazoned on his t-shirt – and it’s given a rousing airing tonight.
After a rapturous reception, the band return for the encore, and Embrace finish, as ever, with the mass ‘la la la’ singalong of ‘The Good Will Out’; the cheers at the finale will be ringing in my ears for days.
If you’ve not been to see this band before, I strongly advise that you come along, leave your cynicism at the door and join the congregation. Feel it, enjoy it, and embrace it.