For some bands, anniversary album gigs serve merely as financial gain and play on people's nostalgia. However, there are exceptions, where the pure spirits of rock n roll find a new lease of life. Primal Scream's re-imagining of 'Screamadelica', eight years on is still the benchmark. Incorporating the best pieces of club culture post '91 into an album set that launched a lot of them, it was a revolving door of Balearic fantasy wonderland past and present.
This past Friday night, Embrace played to a sold out Roundhouse in Camden to mark the 21st birthday of their debut 'The Good Will Out'. Now, they may not have pushed the boundaries like the Primals, but, there was a humility and a connection with flowing from stage to crowd and back again that few have achieved.
This connection reached its summit at the albums mid-point. 'Higher Sights' and 'Retread', are often overlooked for their albums opening three anthems 'All You Good Good People, 'My Weakness Is None Of Your Business', and 'Come Back What To What You Know'. On this night though, it's clear, Embrace fans have all been living similar lives. Such is there power to evoke memories of heartache and find inspiration to carry on, they serve as collective comfort blanket.
Danny McNamara is like a man possessed singing “Will you fight? / Let's see you fight”. There is power oozing from him rarely seen in front men, especially ones so successful. He still has that “one of you” tag about him. Humble and appreciative to the plight of the crowd, he carries everyone along with him to another plain.
Another of the overlooked numbers for live sets is 'That's All Changed Forever'. When you have classics like 'Fireworks' and 'Good Will Out' in your armoury, there can be no complaints for not seeing it on stage. On a night when people are inevitably looking back to the the late 90s, its sentiment carries extra poignancy. It could have only been written by those in the throws of youth. Pleading and defiant simultaneously, this tale of “you'll see” post break up is undoubtedly invoking that first love or the one that got away. It's even harder not to raise a wry smile at almost vengeful last line “Cause you don't know better than me”. We probably didn't.
The credibility Embrace carried through the set was largely due to their two quality albums since their re-emergence in 2014. They didn't need tonight, financially or critically. Danny's reaction to 'Retread; was “oh I forgot how much I like this one”. Despite being key to their success, it was though he won the lottery and got to front Embrace tonight.