‘When the fireworks in me are all gone…’
Everyone has that first big breakup album don’t they. On reflection my first breakup wasn’t even a breakup, it was just a rejection. The heartache is long gone but my love for The Good Will Out, the debut album from Huddersfield heroes Embrace, stubbornly remains. The opportunity to see that record played in its entirety is an intriguing one…
Embrace take to the stage adorned with their name literally up in lights. As with Ash’s Tim Wheeler and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Danny McNamara of Embrace never seems to age. Indeed, as his peers become older and balder, McNamara’s hair only becomes more luxurious.
We are here for the 20th anniversary of The Good Will Out, an album that was a monster hit back in the ’90s. The band play the album from start to finish, in order, to a fawning and incredibly loud Sheffield audience. All You Good Good People is a fitting set opener and it sets the tone for an evening of anthems, pounding drums and massive choruses. My Weakness is None of Your Business is similarly well received with the band clearly delighted with the crowd reaction before Come Back To What You Know finds Sheffield in good voice. As one of Britpop’s most recognisable anthems, the latter song is treated with the reverence that it deserves.
One Big Family keeps things moving as possibly the most upbeat track on the album, before a stunning Retread slows things down once more. Fireworks is one of the great lost songs of that era and it sounds beautiful here with Danny McNamara acknowledging the lovelorn lyrics by declaring ‘this is NOT a wedding song!’
A poignant That’s All Changed Forever has knees weak and hearts aflutter before the first part of the set comes to a conclusion with a salient rendition of the title track The Good Will Out.
Embrace are an odd one really in as much as they seemingly had two careers. It felt like they were finished after the release of third record If You’ve Never Been before they came roaring back with the wildly successful Out of Nothing three years later. Embrace never truly felt like my band any more after their comeback and while Refugees and Follow You Home still sound majestic, I don’t have the same emotional connection with those songs as I do with the band’s older material. This is my fault, not their’s however, and by the time we come to the Chris Martin penned Gravity and now traditional set closer Ashes I am back on board.
As the band bow to the audience a feeling of unity and warmth exudes throughout Sheffield Academy. Embrace love. Embrace hope. Embrace Danny McNamara and his luxurious hair.
Embrace leave the stage as truly one of Yorkshire’s finest live acts. The good good people have listened. See you next time lads.