Embrace deals in epicness and there are very few, if any, venues in the country that can match the epicness of The Piece Hall in Halifax. With the band hailing from the area, making this a hometown show, in celebration of 25 years since the release of their debut album The Good Will Out, it ramps up the excitement about the show even more than usual.
With local indie artist Ellur opening the show, it also makes the evening a family affair. Her dad is Richard McNamara, the guitarist of Embrace. Ellur are well chuffed to be playing here, and it showed with big hooks and vocals matching their beaming smiles. She channels her inner Stevie Nicks throughout and makes tons of new fans in the audience. It really is great to see new local bands making such an impression at this stand-out venue.
Next up were Britpop luminaries Starsailor, who have more songs that you remember than you think they do. Morphing into a sort of supergroup for this show, with Andy Dunlop of Travis taking over bass duties and Richard McNamara joining them on guitar for the second half of the set.
James Walsh’s vocals sound perfect in this setting, combined with the beautiful weather. “Alcoholic” sounded gut-wrenchingly fantastic, and later in the set “Four to the Floor” and “Good Souls” sounded huge. The set shows how strong British music was in the early ’00s and with the album celebrating its 20th-anniversary title track “Silence is Easy” soared into the atmosphere in all its glory.
Headlining for the second time in 4 years Embrace took the stage to pure adoration and started with a bang, literally, with a huge explosion of confetti marking the start of the show leading straight into “All You Good Good People,” one of the biggest singalongs on the album.
Playing an album in full does create certain issues, especially with an album that ebbs and flows as much as The Good Will Out does. Not only can it kill the momentum of a show or alter how it builds, but it also means the chances of you playing your best tracks early are high and leave you nowhere to go. Especially when it comes to an encore. TGWO luckily has plenty of high points spread across it. “Come Back to What You Know” and “We Are Family” are two examples of that, but the highlight of the album, for me, was always “Last Gas” with its Oasis-esque bravado and singable chorus and it sounded fantastic.
Closing the main set with “The Good Will Out,” and a second covering of confetti for the audience, along with some epic fireworks over the steeple behind The Piece Hall, the band left to rapturous applause. With their biggest hits having already been aired, the encore was almost a disappointment. Almost. Although The Good Will Out was their defining moment in the eyes of many, they still have a handful of massive tunes to close out the night in a successful fashion.
They’ve celebrated the 21st and now 25th anniversaries of this album at The Piece Hall, and Danny promised they’d be back for the 50th with everyone in attendance agreeing they’d be there too. This was yet another great musical night for Halifax, where great nights are becoming the norm. Halifax is clearly THE place to be.