Once again we’re back at the beautiful historic Piece Hall in Halifax which is rapidly becoming a must do live venue for music lovers and it is an Embrace hometown gig which unsurprisingly sold out months ago when it was announced. Support this evening comes from Ellur, to kick things off and big friend of ours at RGM, James Walsh playing with his band Starsailor.
22yo Ellur is another of the McNamara clan (Richard’s daughter). Halifax seems to be a fountain of talent of late since the Oreilles came onto the scene in a big way. Wax Tree Cast and The Hazy Janes also come from this small market town along with tonights talented young guest.
There’s a sizable crowd down early to catch her and she’s not showing any nerves as she kicks in with what I think is Best Face On. It’s quite livelier live, a synth heavy track with vocals that Florence Welch would be proud of.
“How you doing Halifax, alright? Always wanted to say that” she asked and giggles and further along there’s a tongue in cheek shout out to the Halifax Massive, clearly this girl isn’t taking life too seriously. It’s a high energy 30 minute set that ends with Moments, a track that has already amassed 450k plays on Spotify alone, impressive stuff.
There’s a sound to them not dissimilar to Richard McNamara’s own side band EEVAH unsurprisingly and the young all female backing band are all equal to Ellur’s confidence and performance, I was quite taken in with them, they’re well worth checking out.
Having been around for almost as long as Embrace’s debut album, The Good Will Out, Starsailer are still capable of drawing a crowd on their own. It’s great to see them taking 2nd billing with Embrace once again tonight as there’s something of a bromance going on here.
With James Walsh’s unique vocals ringing out with Good Souls before the band even walk on stage it’s a strange entrance but they’re straight in to the bangers with Poor Misguided Fool followed by Alcoholic.
Mid set James explains why he’s wearing shorts on set, that the Skate rocker look is only temporary as he’s had a minor operation and told to wear loose-fitting clothes. His doctor said he should take a week off work. James explained he only works 30-45 mins a week so his doctor said that’s probably ok.
Usual bassist Selfox is unavailable for tonight’s gig so Andy Dunlop from Travis stands in. Not the only usual none member as after Lullaby Richard McNamara steps on to join them for the rest of the set that kicks of with Tell Me Its Not Over and as James explains they were convinced it was going to be a massive hit, rare self belief from them but it wasn’t except in Belgium and South Korea so if you’re over here from there, enjoy…
After that it’s back to the bangers with Four To The Floor and Silence Is Easy before ended as it started with Good Souls.
Now the initial concern for anyone who has seen Embrace live is which Danny are we getting tonight, the relatively tuneful one or Halifax’s answer to Ian Brown. The word is from the warm up gig at Holmfirth’s wonderful Picturedrome is it’s looking promising for the former rather than latter. It’s hard to believe that it’s 25 years since the world got to hear the likes of All You Good Good People. But here we are to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Album, The Good Will Out.
Light is already dropping as Embrace take to the stage Danny asking the crowd if we’re going to have a fucking good one the confetti cannons fire and it’s straight into All You Good People. Danny is in fine voice thankfully as are the Halifax crowd. Indeed there’s smiles around but there’s a literal black cloud on the horizon and my phone has just warned of rainfall, bugger….
It looks like they are doing The Good Will Out in track order which from memory I was immediately thinking that could be a problem which I’ll come to later.
Danny explains that as it’s a hometown gig the bands entire families here tonight, kids, cousins, Mums and Dads, Uncles and Aunties the whole lot and the vibe tonight is definitely one of one big family amongst the crowd. There’s a lot of hugging and singing going on and indeed during Come Back To What You Know. The entire Piece Hall singing the chorus or at least sounds like it, I take a quick look around, yup it’s the entire Piece Hall.
Highest Sights gets dedicated to Danny’s wife Lauren here at her 1st gig in around 5 years after the birth of their 2 kids
Reveal reveals the 1st spots of rain but it isn’t dampening the audience who are still in fine form. Thankfully it remains just a few spots.
Now not unknown for the odd Faux Pas Danny strikes again and not for the last time tonight as he calls the VIP section up on the balcony the cheap seats where you get in for free. Rick has to correct him before Fireworks
Now, the problem with doing an album live in order is with too many slow songs in a row soon causes the crowd to lose interest. I mentioned earlier my concern was the back end of The Good Will Out is pretty slow and the lull is definitely setting in. There’s a drop of energy in the crowd and people are losing interest towards the back and chatting more and more between themselves. Thankfully The Good Will Out albeit another slow one is a crowd pleaser. It picks the crowd back up especially when the fireworks fly for the 1st time to close the album.
It’s only 10 past 10 so surely that’s not it I’m thinking then the techs come on stage and start tuning guitars so all’s good.
Band walks back on for the Encore/Part 2 and before they start there’s a slight delay as a woman needs medical help to which after a short while Danny declares we’ve a thumbs up and ironically announces the 2nd set Opener. Death Is Not the End…
Refugees follows which is once of their later more successful tracks and it still proves it’s immensity with the crowd clapping and singing along with the hook then it’s straight into Gravity the track that relaunched the band after a several year hiatus, it’s a song gifted to them by Chris Martin when he could still write a decent tune and it’s still one of the best songs he’s ever written. It’s after this point Danny who’s been on cloud 9 all night strikes again saying he’s now 52 and today is the best day of his life only then to remember his wife’s in the crowd so quickly retracts that to after his wedding day and birth of his 2 kids …
It’s then into Ashes to close the night which has quite an emotional affect around the crowd as it’s probably the most loved track by fans. A glorious spectacle as the crowd are bouncing and singing along and copious amounts of confetti and streamers are fired out of the stage along with more fireworks than your average bonfire display and I didn’t think it would be possible with stone but I swear I can feel the venue floor is definitely bouncing.
So once again the Piece Hall has a night that absolutely blows folk away, it wasn’t perfect due to the lull around the 2/3rd’s mark but by the time Ashes ended I don’t think anyone cared, 3 brilliant bands and another night to remember, what a special place this is and I’ve still got more gigs to come in here. For more information about the Piece Hall line up – clickHERE.