Squeeze Live Review by Ryan Beardsley
Ok, I’ll be honest, up until about a year ago, when I heard Squeeze I thought ‘Cool For Cats’ and that’s about it. Then all of a sudden you’re idly flicking through a Top 10 of underrated records from a certain time/genre and come across glowing reviews of their third record Argybargy and off you go down the rabbit hole….
Which brings me to tonight, in the famous o2 Arena, not quite the main stage but the Indigo Room. A curious venue which holds over 4500 people, resembling a nightclub on the ground floor and a West End theatre in the balcony, and it’s one of the last dates of Squeeze’s Food For Thought Tour.
The band hit the stage and kick off with Take Me I’m Yours and the sentiment is apt, because these guys are looking flash. Dressed in smart mod like suits, it’s hard to believe their debut LP was released fully forty five years ago.
Up The Junction comes shortly after and its one of the most flawless three minutes of music you’re ever likely to hear. The ability to spin a winding narrative with such vivid lyrics that beautifully encapsulate an entire generation of people, well my hats off to them. Not to mention the rendition was note perfect.
Which brings us to Glenn Tilbrook, lead singer and guitarist. I’ve seen a lot of artists playing into their twilight years and at 65, I have to admit he’s in that category (sorry mate), but the range and depth of his voice really blew me away, even up there on the balcony.. Also I had no idea that he is such a skilled guitarists, the solo on Pulling Muscles in particular left me gobsmacked.
It’s mostly a hit parade with a few new ones thrown in for good measure, most notably is EP and tour title Food For Thought, a track about the troubled times we’re living in and the very real struggle that so many families now face on a daily basis in this country. Incidentally, the proceeds of this tour are being donated to food bank charities, a genuinely muted, selfless gesture that would be lacking from many bands in a better position to afford it, I tip my hat.
The song itself is typically illustrative in it’s word play, something that Chris Difford has made his trademark and it’s nice to hear something released in the last twenty years that has genuine meaning and a message. If there was any justice, the song would be a sure fire Christmas no1 with all the proceeds benefitting those who need it. I suppose we’ll have to make do with that Sausage Roll Baby thing again ay.
It’s back to the crowd pleasers for the finale, Goodbye Girl in particular has all the ladies in the audience on their feet, clearly revelling in a moment from the past brought back to life by the band’s infectious energy.
Tempted gets the mass sing along treatment, as Tilbrook steps back and lets the audience do the honours for the chorus and it’s clear the band are genuinely touched by this devoted following after all these years, being sure to thank the fans graciously.
We end things with Cool For Cats, such an iconic track but as I touched upon earlier, did it do them more harm than good? Its genuinely hard to recognise the band in comparison to their other tracks as Difford is on lead vocals and the song inevitably became a novelty. Leaving the likes of me oblivious to the fact they had crafted dozens of clever, catchy pop songs that deserve a wider audience even today.
We’re treated to the compulsory encore, Slap and Tickle with it’s killer chorus and then Black Coffee in Bed, probably their biggest international hit leaves the crowd on their feet and dancing long after the lights come on.
As I leave the o2 I can’t help but think that Squeeze deserve so much more, in another life they’d be playing to 20,000 in the main arena. They have the songs, they have the musicianship and they have the charisma to entertain the big crowds. Maybe if some young influencer can make them go viral with a Tik Tok or something, perhaps there’s still time for that show on the biggest stage.