Secret Gig 21 – OCCUPATION
Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
View: Balcony… and all over the fucking place
When you find yourself dressed in combat gear and smeared in badly applied camouflage facepaint, legging it across a cricket field somewhere in Yorkshire pursued by zombies, you know you’re not at your average gig. Welcome to the 21st Embrace Secret Gig – the aptly titled ‘Occupation’ – wherein a small, quiet town in West Yorkshire is transformed into a hideous re-enactment of a George A. Romero film.
Embrace have been staging these secret gigs for almost as long as they’ve been around – an impromptu series of increasingly bizarre concerts that test the true devotion of their fans. After a prolonged period of absence, you might suspect the ardour for the band has dissipated. If you thought that, you probably don’t know an Embrace fan; this lot are rabid. Today, literally.
Once inside the venue, the band start things off with album opener Protection, its ominous, siren-like electronics an apt place to start. Tonight, the new album is played out in its entirety. And even though still unreleased, the reaction is nevertheless an ardent and rabid one from a crowd for whom that same description can be applied. Of course, your correspondent has heard the album, and for the most part, the performance is a faithful, incendiary enactment of the new material – particularly brilliant new single Follow You Home, which seems to have unearthed a new sing-along chant with its “Aaah-ohhh, aaah-ohhh” refrain, which is reprised quite a few times, the crowd becoming instantly infected by its almost hymnal call-to-arms.
Sandwiched in between the new material, Embrace play to their greatest strengths – Ashes and a rousing rendition of All You Good Good People. This band’s return is pretty seamless – as if they’ve never been away.
Finishing with their perennial grand finale The Good Will Out, the zombie congregation are loving it as new life dawns… and Embrace arise, glorious, once again.
The good has come back.
*This review is published in Record Collector magazine in the UK and Filter magazine in the US