Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook achieved their greatest commercial success in the late 70s and early 80s within Squeeze. They enjoyed considerable chart success and their songs from that period are rightly regarded as classics. Interestingly, back in the day songs such as “Up The Junction” and “Labelled With Love” fell slightly short of achieving number one chart status, instead reaching number 2 and number 4 respectively. Maybe this is not surprising when you remember that the first of the songs was competing against juggernauts like The Police and Blondie and the latter was released whilst the electronic pop movement was in full flight with the likes of Soft Cell and The Human League dominating the charts. Back then music was much more tribal and Squeeze didn’t really belong to any particular ‘tribe’. As has so often proven to be the case, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s easier to recognise the quality of Chris and Glenn’s songs with them arguably having aged better than many of their contemporaries.
To my mind Glenn seems to be a workaholic, touring (and releasing new material) at various times with Squeeze, The Fluffers and as is the case tonight as a solo artist.
To no fanfare at all Glenn casually walked onto the stage that was minimally set, strapped on an acoustic guitar and we were up and running. If you are going to attempt to keep an audience happy by performing a full-length set of songs performed in a stripped down format you need to have plenty of charisma and some good songs in your back pocket. No worries there then!
Several times during the evening Glenn referred to the fact that he was struggling a little with his voice. Occasional sips were taken from a constant supply of mugs that presumably contained a special formula tincture which seemed to keep things running smoothly. Certainly, from where I was standing it sounded pretty damn good. Whatever was in those mugs should be “bottled and labelled……..”! (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one - I promise that there are no more)
The first half of the performance was performed entirely with an acoustic guitar. This section included a swift run through a selection of songs from his post-Squeeze solo catalogue including a great version of the hilarious “Genitalia of a Fool”. Whilst the solo compositions are every bit as accomplished as the older Squeeze songs, it was the older and evidently much loved (if the word perfect audience singing is any guide) songs such as “Take Me I’m Yours” and the previously mentioned hit singles “Up The Junction” and “Labelled With Love” that were most warmly received -with Glenn generously allowing the audience to sing the final line from “Labelled With Love” alone.
With no break, Glenn switched to electric guitar for the final part of the performance which opened with “Annie Get Your Gun”. If forced to judge, I would say that the loudest audience singing accompanied the final song of the set “Tempted”. This might have been because everyone thought that by this late stage of the evening Glenn needed a helping hand. I think it is more likely that everyone was just having a great time!
Glenn left the stage to rapturous applause and cheers and did not keep us waiting for too long before re-emerging for an encore. We were treated to electric versions of “Pulling Muscles from a Shell” and “Tempted”. The audience departed happy and no doubt Glenn was pleased to allow his voice a well-earned rest.
Review by Kevin Barnes