Mainstream act for a main stage night
This was a triumphant and somewhat defiant performance from Embrace, who have experienced both the very high and the rock bottom in their career, which at one point saw them joining the dole queue having been tipped for greatness a few years previously.
"This is the first time in our ten year career we've headlined the main stage at a festival," Danny McNamara told the packed crowd.
"They keep writing us off and we come right back in their faces!" he added before calling for crowd participation for "probably our biggest hit", 'Come Back to What You Know'. The Embrace faithful duly obliged, not that they needed any encouragement of course.
Embrace are hugely popular but for many aren't exactly the coolest band on the planet, probably why, with the greatest respect their first headline performance was here at Guilfest rather than one of the majors on the circuit. Regardless of what you think of them, they know how to put on a show and they succeeded in having the Guilfest crowd eating from their hands by the end of the night.
This was, as you might expect, a hit heavy set. 'All You Good Good People' and 'Come Back to What You Know' were unleashed early on, mixed up with tracks from recent album's 'Out of Nothing' and 'This New Day'. Singles to get an airing at this stage tended to be ballads, 'Looking As You Are', 'Nature's Law' and 'Glorious Day', but the real stand out tracks were more rocky songs such as 'Sainted' and 'Target' from 'This New Day'. The latter another 'Ashes' in the making it most certainly is!
Embrace seem to be labeled as a ballad heavy band, but when you see them live there is definitely a rock edge to what they do. For me their performance at V last year had more of an edge to it than this time, but with virtually every song they play having an anthemic quality to it they're a real feel good band to watch in this sort of environment and are made to play headline slots.
The tracks that have restarted their career were left for later in the set. 'Gravity' will always be a winner, and to build up to a song like 'Ashes' gives a set a real feeling of climax.
OK so they're not to everyone's taste, but they certainly allowed a lot of people in Guildford to go home or back to their tents feeling on top of the world, which is what this kind of gig is all about.
Embrace seem to approach their career now with a "don't give a toss what anyone thinks" attitude, and for that reason it is easy to warm to them. Now with their first UK main stage performance under their belt, it will be interesting to see what major festival slots they get for summer 2007. Having just played a series of forest shows, and with them adding new dates seemingly on a weekly basis, the demand to see them live is at an all time high.