3 September 2019
“A lot of people compared songwriters Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook to Lennon and McCartney, but they were much younger.”
Not quite true anymore. Lennon and McCartney split up in their late twenties and will remain young forever crossing Abbey Road. That left Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook, and the rest of us still aging.
Difford and Tilbrook, both in their early sixties, have aged well, though, as have their songs. Difford looks like an eccentric, Oxbridge don, while Tilbrook looks like he could play an Inspector on a BBC crime series.
In preparation for this concert, I went to the Squeeze website to catch up. Unless you’re really dedicated, it’s hard to keep up with Squeeze. Squeeze break up, and Difford and Tilbrook make a duo album; Squeeze form again; Squeeze break up again; Difford and Tilbrook make solo albums; Squeeze band together yet again. (There are even variations on this, such as speaking tours and VH1 specials where it looks like there will be a reunion, but there isn’t.) I was surprised to see that Gilson Lavis, a former drummer, and Keith Wilkinson, a former bassist, were no longer in the band. They were favorites of mine. Gilson Lavis was an original member of the band and Wilkinson, while not an original member, had been with the group for some time. The new musicians are Yolanda Charles, bassist; Simon Hanson, drummer; Steven Large, keyboardist; and Steve Smith, percussionist. It took two people to replace Gilson Lavis. It seems a long time ago now that Difford and Tilbrook first broke up Squeeze because they didn’t have the heart to fire Lavis who had been drinking a bit too much. (They rehired him later. I don’t know why he left the second time.)
The new rhythm section of Charles, Hanson, and Smith seem younger than Difford and Tilbrook. Maybe this is the secret to staying young. Get a new, young rhythm section every ten years or so. (Although the Clash tried something like this and it didn’t work so well.) At any rate, Squeeze was on fire tonight at the State Theater. It was a far cry from when I saw a solo Tilbrook in a small bar in San Francisco without an adequate sound system, which was beautiful in its own way since he ended up performing unmiked.
Squeeze tend to stick pretty closely to their original arrangements when they play live, which makes their live shows a bit hard to review. So I’ll end with some unrelated, stray observations.
- Tilbrook tends to stretch out a bit in his guitar solos when playing live. He is probably the best hard rock, lead guitarist playing in a melodic, pure pop band.
- On the last song performed, “Black Coffee in Bed,” Tilbrook started out playing the song solo on an acoustic guitar. He also had a singalong with the audience. Later the full band came in.
- I guess I can probably forget my dream of seeing Jools Holland or Paul Carrack live in Squeeze. Stephen Large did a pretty good job of playing Jools’ wild solo on “Pulling Mussels from the Shell,” though.
- Silent films were played on a backdrop behind the players. Because of my location, I couldn’t see them all that well, but they looked good. It was more fun watching the band members.
- I can live without Keith Wilkinson (as much as I like his playing) if they keep Yolanda Charles on bass. Maybe she’s the fire under this reinvigorated version of Squeeze. Her and Simon Hanson at any rate. I loved the deep bass sound Charles used. From where I was sitting, it looked like she was playing a Fender, either a Precision or a Jazz.
Release years are given in parentheses.
- Footprints (1987)
- Big Beng (1985)
- Hourglass (1987)
- Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) (1980)
- Up the Junction (1979)
- King George Street (1985)
- Someone Else’s Heart (1981)
- Third Rail (1993)
- In Quintessence (1981)
- The Day I Get Home (1991)
- Please Be Upstanding (2017)
- Annie Get Your Gun (1982)
- Cradle to the Grave (2015)
- Cool for Cats (1979)
- Slap and Tickle (1979)
- Love’s Crashing Waves (1984)
- Tempted (1981)
- Another Nail in My Heart (1980)
- Goodbye Girl (1979)
- If I Didn’t Love You (1980)
- Take Me I’m Yours (1978)
- Is That Love (1981)
- Black Coffee in Bed (1982)