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Sheffield City Hall, 18 October 2019

Hot on the heels of a highly successful US tour, the quintessentially English New-Wave icons Squeeze hit the road for their 2019 UK tour kicking off with three nights, up North, in Scunthorpe, Sheffield and Gateshead.

To slow the pace for a moment, Ware stepped out from behind his keyboard to join Gregory for “Heaven 17’s version of Human League’s version of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” called Gregory. Bernice Scott’s keys provided the musical backdrop to a delightfully moody duet which brought the house to it’s feet.

Squeeze
Photo: Geoff Ford

Let Me Gowas a clear fans’ favourite and Penthouse And Pavementhad everyone dancing in the aisles before it was time to leave. Girl singers Kelly Barnes and Rachel Mosleh, who were superb throughout, came to the fore for the finale, Temptation, and Barnes’s interaction with Gregory was stunning, a magnificent conclusion to a great homecoming.

How do you top that? Has to be Squeeze with The Difford And Tilbrook Songbook! And what a songbook! Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook have created a host of 3-minute superbly-crafted pop classics looking at every aspect of life from adolescent love to living on a council estate to alcoholism.

Given that they Squeezed 25 numbers into an hour and three-quarters, there was little time to catch breath or chat between songs so the songs came thick and fast, save for Tilbrook’s  introduction after the opening salvo of FootprintsBig BengHourglass,Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)and Up The Junction. “Chris and I made a list songs for the tour,” he said, “and we thought we’d like to include some songs we haven’t played for a while. This is a bit of an anachronism, about a council estate, King George Street.” 

Ahead of the tour Glenn Tilbrook said that he believes the current 7-piece Squeeze line-up sounds better than ever and latest recruit Melvin Duffy’s pedal steel guitar added the finishing touches to King George Streetand Labelled With Love.

Squeeze
Photo: Geoff Ford

Whilst the set covered the whole of Squeeze’s 45-year career, there was a strong emphasis on that early golden period of 1979 to 1981 and the classic albums Cool For CatsArgybargyand East Side Storywhich provided half of the set’s numbers. Principal lead vocalist Tilbrook tirelessly delivered each song with the appropriative sense of drama or humour, with Chris providing vocal harmonies. Together they shared the lead vocals on Someone Else’s Heart.

The rest of the band, Stephen Large (keyboards, vocals), Yolanda Charles (bass, vocals), Simon Hanson (drums and backdrop videos), Steve Smith (percussion, vocals) and Duffy, left the stage, midway, for a breather while Difford, trading electric guitar for acoustic, and Tilbrook shared the spotlight, and the vocals, for In Quintessenceand Slap And Tickle.

Squeeze have many endearing qualities including the light and shade between the vocals of Tilbrook and Difford. And while Tilbrook takes the lion’s share of vocal leads, one should not overlook just what a great guitarist he is, too. His solo in Slap and Ticklewas just one of many during the evening.

Bringing the Songbookup to date were the title track to 2015’s Cradle To the Grave, for which Tilbrook picked up a ukulele, and Please Be Upstandingfrom their most recent The Knowledgealbum. Then it was back to the early hits as the set drew to a close with Difford’s notable vocal lead on Cool For Cats, followed by Another Nail In My HeartGoodbye Girland Annie Get Your Gun.

“Thank you, you’re amazing,” Tilbrook said as Squeeze left the stage but no-one was leaving without an encore. Squeeze returned to a huge cheer to sing If I Didn’t Love Youbefore Tilbrook acknowledged Difford saying “Without him we wouldn’t be here tonight, I’m so happy we met.” After all these years, the enduring friendship between these two chums is so evident and Tilbrook was right, the band was outstanding all evening and Squeeze dosound better than ever.

The encore continued with their very first hit Take Me I’m Yoursbefore they answered the audience’s calls for Black Coffee In Bed.

The Difford And Tilbrook Songbook Tour continues through October and November including dates in Hull, Liverpool, Salford and Harrogate. For more information and tickets please visit https://www.gigsandtours.com/tour/squeeze/

Audience members planning to bring donations to the Trussell Trustfood bank collection points at the concerts are asked to check https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ to see what supplies are needed at local food banks.

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