Brighouse band Embrace set for comeback

Undated Handout photo of the band Embrace (singer Danny McNamara in centre). See PA Feature POP Football. PA Photo/Handout
Undated Handout photo of the band Embrace (singer Danny McNamara in centre). See PA Feature POP Football. PA Photo/Handout

Brighouse band Embrace are making a comeback after seven years.

Made up of Danny McNamara, Richard McNamara, Mike Heaton, Steve Firth and Mickey Dale, the band has been performing their new material and previous hits at secret gigs.

Their debut album, “The Good Will Out” went to No.1 in the UK albums chart before releasing their critically acclaimed album, Out of Nothing.

The band also recorded World At Your Feet, England’s World Cup football anthem in 2006.

Excitement is growing with an expected single and LP release.

Alan Whitfield has been one of the lucky ones to see one of their comeback gigs held in Bradford. Read his review here.

Landing – The Event

It’s Sunday 10th November 2013 and it’s around 6.30pm. There is a group of around 45 people from across the length of the UK gathered outside an abandoned section of an old mill in Bradford. Many have travelled hundreds of miles to be here and every single one of them has followed strict instructions and is dressed completely in black. Some wearing balaclava’s and hooded tops, some with blacked out faces. They are all waiting.

I am one of them.

To be honest this probably all started around five or six weeks ago, I suppose everything has to start somewhere and on the morning of October 3rd I received what seemed like a fairly innocent Facebook friend request from John Al White.

I know it probably began before then, some will correct me on this point but this is when it started for me or at least when it became real.

A couple of weeks later I received a cryptic message from Mr White with an ID, Password and website link. Those of us who followed that trail ultimately found themselves here. Here in the cold, outside Lumb Lane Mill, waiting like we had been for weeks however, the difference now was that within the next hour we would know what they had planned for us.

At around 7.15pm the large iron gates were padlocked and we were shut off from what felt like the real world. We were led, ten at a time, by a man dressed in black into a small reception area where we were asked to hand over our mobile phones or any camera’s, provide photo ID and sign a disclaimer. I don’t think any of us read the small print; in fact, I don’t think I read any of it at all. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was excitement but I think it was because it really didn’t matter what it said. I was here now, I had got this far and there were no words on that page that would stop me from getting into the dark back room that the rest had been ushered.

I was in.

As we stood huddled together in a dark shuffling on the spot to keep warm the man who had brought us her walked in. “This is how it is” he said as he made his way towards another door at the side of the room. “You need to listen to what I say and follow what I say if you don’t want to get hurt”.

I didn’t want to get hurt! Why would I get hurt?

I began to feel a little nervous at this point but adrenaline was playing a massive part and I was mostly still eager to push on. He continued to explain that in the next room there was a set of stairs and due to the steepness we would need to descend backwards. Okay, now it was starting to sound dangerous but one by one we carefully made our way into the basement, down into what almost felt like the foundations of this huge old building. We gathered in the gloom, looking for clues for what was to come and waiting on the next set of instructions.

Once we were all safely down we were led in a single file chain through a set of narrow tunnels and rooms, walking in a darkness like I have never known and most of the time it felt like my eyes were closed. We continued to be guided slowly through the guts of the building, stooped over so to avoid low ceilings and holding on to the person in front so we wouldn’t get separated or lost in the black.

As we neared the end of the tunnel we could hear a siren in the distance, this seemed to be accompanied by a faint heartbeat that grew louder the further we walked. After several more nervous steps we all began to see a literal light at the end of the tunnel, a light that seemed to beat in time with the synthesised heart. As we got to the entrance a strobe light filed the room in split second intervals that allowed us to glimpse the silhouettes of the five men who had brought us here. We were all led to our seats where we sat in silence staring into the blackness, hoping our eyes would eventually adjust.

They didn’t.

Three TV screens hung from the roof between us and them, our eyes were forced to focus on the soft black glow which meant we couldn’t see passed them.

Could they see us?

I think I held my breath for what seemed like five or six minutes and then it started, the sound filled the room, crashing around us. It was instantly recognisable.

Madeline!

Embrace were back!

They blasted through the next five tracks, “In the End”, “Refugees”, “At Once”, “Protection” and “I Run” all new material and all as epic as the last. Swirling guitars and keys filled the small, dark concrete room, they had nowhere to go and echoed vehemently around their stone tomb. Each song powered by a drum beat and bass line that continually punched you in the chest, punctuating the melodies and lyrics.

I haven’t heard music like this before. It was quite literally breathtaking.

As the set progressed the TV’s crackled into life with white static before displaying night vision footage of the unseen band who were performing only a matter of feet away. Occasionally backlights came on and subtlety illuminated the band and Danny cracked green glow sticks that allowed as all to glimpse moments of this hugely powerful and emotional performance.

Every single second of the new material tore through me, it left me speechless.

“Natures Law”, “Someday” and “Gravity” where next on the set list and just like the opener, “Madeline”, there was something new here too. Everything had been kicked up a couple of gears. It could have been the environment or the situation we were in but this all felt louder, rawer, more emotive and maybe even a little bit more menacing than past performances. For me it suddenly felt like this is how it always should have been and I have absolutely no doubt that this direction is the right direction.

It’s the only direction.

“Thief” closed the set and could be easily identified as the track sampled to provide the soundtrack to the glorious dark teaser trailer the band released all those weeks ago. As the final song came to a frenzied close Danny handed out a handful of glow sticks to the masked crowd. As the band disappeared the room plunged back into darkness and while the guitar lay somewhere screaming we all got to our feet and gave them a final rapturous and explosive applause. We all wanted more, of course we did, we cheered for more but I think we all knew that it was over.

They had gone.

“IT WAS WITHOUT A DOUBT THE MOST UNIQUE AND INSPIRED EVENT ANY OF US HAD EXPERIENCED”

As we eventually made our way back into the tunnel there was an eerie silence. I honestly think it was minutes before I spoke, maybe before anyone did. Following the trail of dim green glowing lights we made our way back to the light of the ground floor and spilled out into the car park.

Every single one of us was in awe. It was without a doubt the most unique and inspired event any of us had experienced and most of us were completely lost for words. Talking about it now still gives me goosebumps.

If the performance it’s self wasn’t enough the band then took the time to join us outside and thank all of personally. A perfect end to a perfect show that I am honoured to have been a part of. Not only that, I am lucky enough to have shared this with a group of people who have very quickly became friends.

I don’t know of any other band or artist that could have made this happen. There is something very, very different about Embrace and the five men who have invested everything they have to make them what they are.

Now there seems to be something more.

This is my thank you to the band for the opportunity I was given. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to say “I was there”.

I don’t think anyone in the room, including the band, could have expected more from our time in that basement.

They finally reached eleven on that scale of one to ten.

I’m now ready for whatever comes next.

I’m ready for the Invasion.