After a lengthy absence, Embrace made a long awaited return to Belfast, playing a gig at The Limelight (A 2001 gig at Ulster Hall was the last one I can think of, feel free to correct me if i’m wrong)
Belfast isn’t the only city that hasn’t seen Embrace for a while, after they took an eight year haitus at their commercial peak before returning with a self titled album earlier this year.
It was the lead single from that album, Follow You Home, which has already proved to be a fan favourite, with fans singing the “Oooohoh Oooohoh Ooooohoh” bit while waiting for the band to take the stage.
Support came from a local band called Pretty Cartel. They were rather good, heavily influenced by Britpop. You may recognise their song The Busker from an advertising campaign for Visit Belfast.
As a bonus to their being good at music thing, they support Linfield as well. Looking forward to their sell out gig at a rebuilt Windsor Park in 2019 when they become a popular beat combo on the hit parade, like One Direction or Take That (Apparantly they’re popular, so i’m told)
Embrace entered the stage to singer Danny McNamara standing onstage and toasting the crowd with a pint of Guinness.
Embrace specialise in anthemic hits, and the crowd lived it when they played their most anthemic such as Follow You Home, All You Good Good People and Come Back To What You Know, as well as Save Me, from the criminally underrated Drawn From Memory, but now two of my favourite Embrace songs, both singles from that album – You’re Not Alone, and Hooligan.
Hooligan, sung by Richard McNamara was probably left off as he was “suffering from Manflu”, but managed to get through the gig, probably aided the the medicinal pint of Guinness at his side.
We did get to hear Richard sing, inbetween songs when he started singing Maggie May, Everything I Do (I Do For You) and I Wanna Dance With Somebody, a song which Danny erroniously asked “Is that by Tina Turner?”
Between songs, Danny kept asking the crowd “Are you warmed up?” in a panto style, declaring himself that he hasn’t happy with the response “That’s only ……%”, with the percentage increasing by a small amount each time.
Eventually, an audience member responded with “Are YOU warmed up?” to which eh replied “Oh …… I was born warmed up”
So warm were they, that Richard McNamara removed his jumper between songs, prompting drummer Mike Heaton and Mikey Dale to improvise and perform The Stripper by David Rose, AKA, the song from the scene in Morecambe and Wise when they do the toast sketch.
Danny McNamara got similar treatment when removing his jacket.
To finish the set, they played their two big 2004 hits, Gravity and Ashes. The crowd sang along, as they did for most songs, Danny pointing the microphone towards them during instrumental pieces.
Well, that wasn’t quite the end of the gig, as there was still an encore to come, which Richard McNamara hijacked by doing a cover of Beautiful Day, and Danny responded by performing his own version of With Or Without You.
Getting the last word in, Danny introduced each member of the band individually to the audience, and introduced Richard as “Bono”
Before their final song, Danny gave fans a news bulletin, of what promises to be a busy 2015 for the band. They’ll be touring America, working on their 7th album, and “returning round here for some festivals” – Hopefully, Belsonic or Tennent’s Vital are already on the ball.