We always knew we would be on the younger and naive side of the age spectrum when we had the decision to see 80’s New Wave legends, Squeeze. What we did not realise is that us being the anomaly, in an otherwise 50+ gig, was a symptom of how such well-written performed music is failing to traverse the generational divide. If this the case it is a massive shame; and a symptom of wider problems.
Enough with the apocalyptic scaremongering, this particular gig was well thought-out and was a reminder that not all bands that have been around for a bit have lost their sense of creativity and vocal range.
The supporting act, Paul Heaton of Beautiful South and the Housemartins, did seem more interested in mild-mannered stand up comedy rather than his classics. He was entertaining, but the middle-aged crowd demanded more music. It was a gig after all.
Squeeze, however, did not disappoint. They seem to had already perfected a decent line-up of tunes, a delicate mix of both old and new. Their new songs were evidence that Difford’s songwriting skills are just as potent as they have always been. He is, after all, a latter-day Ray Davies. Out of these new songs, which they were eager to show off (and rightly so), ‘From the Cradle to the Grave’ and their rendition of a barber shop quartet were particular highlights.
In between the new material, were the classics — at first sparse , as if they were trying to tease the crowd. Then, towards the end, satisfying this built-up thirst — ending the gig on a impressive run of all the classics before defending into the crowd whilst singing away to ‘Goodbye Girl’, as part of the second (and apparently unplanned, upon seeing the distraught stewards’ reaction) encore. It would have been so easy for them to forgo these — having played them hundreds and hundreds of times.
Tilbrook’s voice has not changed since the late 70’s — a miracle, seeing how impressive his vocal range is (the bane of many veteran artists). Whilst Dillard is still as a cool and collected as always, letting his sublime lyrics do the talking. I am big fan of his synth-like vocals, and his rendition of ‘Cool For Cats’ made me wish I was born at least 15-20 years earlier.
In fact, the whole band performed brilliantly. Though a special note has to go to the keyboardist, Stephen Large, who played a variety of keyboard-based instruments — the highlights being his accordion playing during ‘Tempted’, and his rudimentary wind instrument-based keyboard (which is, in all honesty, my best attempt to describe this intriguing instrument).
A fun-filled evening (despite having some overweight woman’s boob rubbing against my back for the majority of the evening!), which words and pictures cannot do justice to (applicable to both circumstances!). And this is probably the problem — word of such artists is not being spread to the new generation. These guys are musicians, not miracle workers.