The Roundhouse

Embrace: The Roundhouse, London

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.

The Bluetones Live @ Roundhouse

With a little charm and a lot of style, Mark Morriss and co were back playing a greatest hits set and Camden’s Roundhouse.  

A lot is made of bands who tour without new material these days and, it's usually negative. In the case of The Bluetones though, they made new music until 2010 so this isnt a massive trip down nostalgia lane. Even if it was, there is a clearly a demand to from their fans to watch their concise alternative pop songs still.   

Nothing can be written about the anthems ‘Bluetonic’ or ‘Cut Some Rug’ that hasn’t been written before. They were, are and always will be classics. What probably wasn’t written enough about the band, was their 2003 album ‘Luxembourg’. 

It should have been another hit album  for the Hounslow band and adoring indie fans. However, a new decade was well under way and the Britpop tag was impossible to shake, especially when the lacklustre Nu-metal scene was dominating the share of alternative airplay.  

The performances of ‘Fast Boy’ and ‘Never Going Nowhere’ highlight just how overlooked they were in this period. ‘Fast Boy’, the tale of their weed dealer, demonstrates a shift towards more riff heavy guitar tracks. Meanwhile, ‘Never Going Nowhere’ took all their classic pop sensibilities and romantically tumultuous lyrics with a slightly more glam-rock tinged guitars and a bass breakdown so good, it is acceptable to dribble over.  

Morriss’ between song banter is a stern reminder just how much new bands could learn from the Bluetones. The dry wit, anecdotes and jokes are continuous throughout and crucially, it endears the crowd to the band even more. After their cover of Prince's 'I Could Never Take Your Place of Your Man', Morriss asks that the audience show their love for The Bluetones before its too late by buying something from the merch stall.  

There are sure to be many more nights like this for Bluetones fans to enjoy, it’s a good money spinner for the band and clearly fun for them. However, to those who booed when Morriss said no more new music was coming, TT retorts, support Morriss' fine solo efforts. Last years 'The Taste Of Mark Morriss' is cracking little indie pop album that should be in every Bluetones fans' collection.