REVIEW: Embrace, Liverpool Academy

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After eight years away, you can forgive Danny McNamara for soaking up the adulation, grinning like the cat who got the cream.

He probably never thought he would get the chance again.

The Embrace frontman fell out of love with music, writing songs and gigging to the extent he couldn’t bear to even look at his guitar.

But then he got his mojo back - and now it was time to reap the rewards.

With a new Top 5 album showing the indie five-piece have built up a more loyal following than most bands can ever imagine, especially after their hiatus, Embrace returned with a first tour since 2006, kicking off with an opening gig at a sweaty Liverpool Academy.

The nerves seemed to be jangling as they arrived on stage. But a whirlwind trio of Protection, In The End and a thumping Refugees - the opening tracks to their self-titled new album - blew away the cobwebs.

In between, many among the 1,000 plus fans bellowed back at him, the infectious “oh-ohs” of Follow You Home filling the venue. Danny, arms aloft, lapped it up.

If some were annoyed at their disappearing act, this was clearly time for redemption.

The 18-song setlist was almost exclusively garnered from the new album, their debut The Good Will Out and 2004’s Out of Nothing.

And while the new songs took on a thrilling live persona, namely Quarters and a Thief on my Island (I Run the only disappointment) it was the old classics that had the audience thinking it was 1999 all over again.

Come Back to What You Know and All You Good Good People have stood the test of time in a fine manner, yet it was the stunning slow burner That’s All Changed Forever which stole the show.

A finale of singalong anthem The Good Will Out was the pre-cursor to a group hug by the band on stage.

Guitarist Richard McNamara would say after the gig: “Felt like we were born to do it!”.

Welcome back lads.

Just don’t leave it as long next time, eh?