Belfast Telegraph

Embrace review: A warm welcome from the diehard fans at The Limelight, Belfast

By Chris Jones

Embrace are back after an eight-year hiatus, and any concerns about their continued popularity were put to bed by the sight of a venue packed to the rafters with fans who have stuck by them since the late ‘90s.

The stage backdrop bore the artwork from the Yorkshire band’s sixth, self-titled album, and the gig opened in sombre fashion with the juddering beats of new song Protection.

But Embrace are ever the crowd-pleasers, and the set took the form of a valedictory run through their greatest hits — everyman anthems saluted with pint glasses in the air and those gargantuan choruses hollered back at the stage.

True, a good portion of the set was fairly turgid — uninspired lad-rock-by-numbers — but it was greeted with joy by the diehards, and the band have enough aces up their sleeve to keep neutrals interested, most of the time.

All You Good Good People — perhaps the biggest of their early, swaggering anthems — was dispensed with early on, Danny McNamara striking a messianic pose as he whipped the faithful into a frenzy, set to a lighting show that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a David Guetta concert.

Likewise One Big Family has lost none of its cocksure attitude and Gravity — written by Coldplay’s Chris Martin and gifted to his friends — showed that Embrace have the power to connect on an emotional level.

Material from Drawn From Memory fared less well, but there’s hope for the future: Quarters, from the latest album, saw the band channel Depeche Mode with grinding synths and a fetching falsetto from McNamara. There’s life in these old dogs yet.

Three stars

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