Dublin Olympia

To put it bluntly, [b]Embrace[/b] rocked the house...

Alfie singer Lee Gorton is perhaps the laziest man in pop. He sits on a stool, legs crossed, occasionally strumming an acoustic, making weird Fonzie-like gestures with his hands to the crowd. But he is a star. Not because he has a head shaped like hey-day Ian Brown, or he drawls each heavily-accented line like Tim Burgess‘ little brother. No, it’s because Lee just sits and

grins and sings like it’s his first ever time. And even if Alfie‘s quiet folk-pop struggles to be heard in front of a partisan Embrace audience, those who do listen hard to the Twisted Nerve cuties find themselves locked in a scratchy groove with bright, summery chorus’ and smashing trumpet trimmings. And by the end of it all, it’s right old clamour. Lee is on his feet, the symbols are falling off the kit and the kids seem happy to postpone their date with the McNamara brothers for an extra few minutes.

Mission accomplished for Alfie.

Their recorded output to date may be the sound of second division Northern Rockers chasing the ‘big music’, but live, Embrace, quite simply, kick it. Even in a far from sold-out Olympia, the atmosphere is like the best party you’ve gatecrashed in months. Maybe it’s the sincerity of Danny McNamara,the way he sings every wounded line unashamedly and pointedly. The way he swings the mic towards the audience because he knows they can sing ‘Come Back To What You Know’ word perfect, maybe even better than him. It’s not

arrogance, it’s simply high-rolling confidence, and it’s as impressive as fuck. Ditto for ‘You’re Not Alone’, and the raucous ‘One Big Family’, an irresistibly cheesy big group-hug of a tune. Even ‘Hooligan’, with its lazy pop groove and kazoo tomfoolery, sounds hugely joyous. ‘Save Me’ kicks off the most, a blustery funk tempest with bad-ass brass and Richard McNamara‘s fierce, elongated guitar lines. It might as well be Spiritualized (ooh, the blasphemy). The place is heaving, and one guy looks like he’s about to leap from his box onto the stage.

Danny knows this is a night to remember, and he rides the momentum beautifully, stepping away from the microphone right in the middle of ‘The Good Will Out’ to soak up a frenzied ovation for about 30 seconds, before resuming his position and continuing the song. Three more songs (even the newies are riotously received), and then finally the one they’ve been screaming for all night, ‘Fireworks’. They’re singing in the streets outside, and they could and would’ve stayed all night, because, to put it

bluntly, Embrace rocked the house.
Leagues O’Toole