The bravado of their 1998 breakthrough may have dissipated but, Embrace, are as good live now than ever before. A calmness exudes from the ever beautiful Danny McNamara and it radiates through Shepherds Bush Empire.
Embrace have never been recognised for cult of status. They don't have the Charlatans tag of 'underrated' or Shed Seven's 'underdog. Nevertheless, not many bands can open with a new song (Wake Up Call) 20 years on and be greeted with a singalong.
It's become accustom for Richard McNamara to have his own section in the set nowadays. Despite all the early classic early songs, the moment Richard takes the spotlight, the anticipation of 'Refugees' hangs in the air. Dancing is inevitable with its post-apocalyptic rave production but, the brutality of the lyrics, in the wake of yet another chemical attack in Syria stops most in their tracks. A rare outing of 'Drawn From Memory' preceded this, by the end of his section, an overwrought of audience were delighted to sink their goosebumps into the anthemic 'Someday'.
Classics 'Save Me', 'Ashes' and 'Gravity' are given an airing. However, its during 'Come Back To What You Know' though the greatness of their past is really highlighted. Sometimes, songs become the fans as much as the bands and this is one. Especially, as Embrace fans age, the tumultuous romantic failure of the lyrics carts everyone back to that first love or to the unrequited love of teenage years.
It's clear at Shepherds Bush, Embrace are far from done!
Image source: http://www.flickofthefinger.co.uk/author/jason/