Embrace : London Brixton Academy

Surprisingly popular return for Embrace. Even the band are stunned...

Noone looks more surprised at how popular Embrace are tonight than Danny McNamara himself. Since the band’s last album, ‘If You’ve Never Been’, received a lukewarm reception, it would be understandable if spirits were a little low all round.

Instead of being their usual unassuming selves, frustration seems to have given them a spark that no record sales ever could. Tonight McNamara rants about radio play lists (“all r n’ b and boy band bollocks”) and music press editors.

The songs have a new vigour too, especially upbeat tracks like the rarely played ‘One Big Family’ which tonight is brash and celebratory.

More interesting still is the gorgeous acoustic, Evan Dando -styled half-song Danny treats us to that he only wrote that day and which promises a more subtle, contemplative future.

Overwhelmed by the exuberant reaction, the band fall silent half way through ‘The Good Will Out’ and Danny folds his arms with a determined war cry, shouting: “We’re not fucking splitting up!”

The last few months may have been disappointing and anyone could be forgiven for wondering if there was still room for Embrace among the Coldplays. Tonight, in the most moving and plain noisy way, any doubt is unequivocally shattered. Danny looks shocked, touched, and most of all, vindicated. Embrace may be down, but they’re certainly not out.

Siobhan Grogan