(The Shelter, MI - July 1st, 2005)
Playing The Shelter, a tiny no-windowed, no-air basement located under a small Detroit club might have given even the weakest of bands the lame chance to cancel due to 'unforeseen circumstances' ... but not Embrace! Sure back in Britain they play regularly to 10,000 plus each time they take to the stage, but here, in front of just 65 people, they played their hearts out like perhaps they never have done.
Touring in America for the first time in 9 long years of being together, Embrace - with their epic intentions and heartfelt emotions pouring out through each and every lyric - took to the ultra small stage at 8.10pm and never stopped singing for over an hour and a half.
The critically acclaimed quintet, fronted by the brothers McNamara (Danny on vocals and Richard on lead guitar) and featuring Steve Firth on bass, Mick Dale on keyboards and Mike Heaton on drums, began their hot, sweaty set with the uplifting 'Ashes' before heading into 'All You Good, Good People.'
'My Weakness Is None of Your Business ' was yet another track from their 1998 UK album The Good Will Out, before the new track 'Someday' is sung to the vocal praise of the crowd.
Danny's stage presence is trapped, his posing humbled by the lack of space to reach out into, his prowling stance curtailed and - so it seems - annoyingly under control. His voice creaky at times in these early moments, he never stops from outreaching his right arm, mic in hand, eyes shut tight, as if enticing whoever was closest to it to have their own private sing-a-long.
In a fashion rather akin to VH-1 Storytellers, Danny fully explains where their hit song 'Gravity' came from (and more importantly, from whom) before launching into it - head first and any throaty caution to the wind. "I know it's hot," he says afterwards "but I want you all jumping up and down to this next song." After a overly-lengthy ramble about a barn dance back in his youth, Danny finally succeeds in enticing half the room into doing what he asked; the room temperature so high now that even the thought of the evenings humid air outside seemed enticing!
'New Adam New Eve' taken from their 2000 album Drawn From Memory is next, 'Come Back To What You Know' follows, before a few songs later a wildly extended version of 'Out Of Nothing' brings the set to a close; guitar laid Townsend-style against the speakers to sound out that last reverberating note.
Quickly back for an encore, they tampered with some homestyle beats by presenting their version of D12's 'How Come' - a version that while still retaining some semblance of rhythm, without Eminem's vocal tone wafted aimlessly in the air - before ending their stage time with the heart-pumping, and crowd pleasing 'The Good Will Out.'
Make no doubt about it, Embrace are the magnificent result of nine years of hard work, a force so huge, so driven by the brothers McNamara that very soon America will not be able to find a venue big enough to house their musical talent.
Reviewed by Russell A. Trunk