I should probably issue a disclaimer with this post that I have been a colossal Squeeze fan since their first record in 1978. Over the years, the band’s working status has been a roller coaster ride. Fortunately, about a dozen or so years ago, the band’s main voice, Glenn Tilbrook, started touring on his own. He has since made several trips to Music City without Squeeze. His last was over four years ago with his combo, The Fluffers. Squeeze on the other hand, last visited town with a show at the Ryman in 2008. Either way it has been way too long since I last saw Tilbrook.
Tilbrook’s first solo acoustic shows were wild ones to say the least—a mixture of Squeeze songs and a diverse assortment of cover versions. He loved taking requests and doing unusual things like inviting audience members to sing and play along with him. (People would even come prepared bringing their guitars!) Having a keen sense of adventure, he did things like take the entire crowd outside for a few songs in the Bluebird Cafe parking lot. Since then, he has released a record with the Fluffers and two solo records. His third solo record, Happy Ending, should be released early next year. While he still plays an exuberant live set that includes a fair amount of Squeeze songs, Tilbrook’s show is now more focused on his work apart from Squeeze.
For this current US tour, Tilbrook has left the full rock band mode behind to return to the gentler acoustic feel of those earlier solo shows. He has, however, brought along some mates for support: old friend, Fluffer, and current Squeeze drummer Simon Hanson on an assortment of “junkyard” percussion; and new friend Chris McNally on keyboards and backup guitar. Both chaps each sang lead on songs that they co-wrote with Tilbrook. Not giving up totally on silliness and adventure, Tilbrook took to supplementing his acoustic guitar arsenal with an iPad for sound effects. At one point, he recorded and played the audience on backing vocals.
The almost two-hour set to a sparse Third and Lindsley crowd included a whopping 26 songs with nine from the upcoming record. Tilbrook noted his regret not having it out before this tour. But tonight, through his extension of the “Squeeze Pop-Up” store, we were all able to take the new songs home by purchasing a copy of the night’s show on CD. (He and the band would later graciously man a table to sign copies.) Tilbrook spoke of how he set out to have all the new song titles consist of people’s names, eventually giving up. In the set tonight, we heard two about famous people, “Dennis” (Wilson, the late Beach Boy) and “Rupert” (Murdoch, the media mogul), along with others about an anonymous “Ray” and “Persephone.”
In my opinion, pound-for-pound there is no one that stacks up to Glenn Tilbrook when it comes to the combined talents of both singing and guitar-playing. Tonight was certainly no exception. His vocals sounded as strong as they ever have. His guitar chops were amazing—most notably on the Squeeze classic, “Pulling Mussels (From a Shell)” and his cover of the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well.”
While his solo songs may not be totally up-to-par lyrically with those penned by Squeeze partner Chris Difford, they are nonetheless fine songs that stand up well. Selfishly, I relished hearing the eight Squeeze songs that he performed. One was the encore performance of “Take Me I’m Yours” with opening act Joe Michelini from the New Jersey band, River City Extension. Another ended the night with a sing-along of “Goodbye Girl.”
Not fully satisfied, good fortune came my way, and just a few weeks later I got to see Tilbrook again on this tour in Asbury Park.
- Parallel World
- Best of Times
- Everybody Sometimes
- Annie Get Your Gun
- You See Me
- Beachland Ballroom
- One for the Road
- Pulling Mussels (From a Shell)
- This Is Where You Ain’t
- Up the Junction
- Hello There (Chris McNally vocal)
- Until You Come Back to Me (Aretha Franklin cover)
- Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- Someone Else’s Bell
- Kevin and Dave (Simon Hanson vocal)
- Chat Line Larry
- Take Me I’m Yours
- Goodbye Girl
Glenn Tilbrook–acoustic guitars, piano (“Tempted”), drums (“Kevin and Dave”) and lead vocals
Simon Hanson–percussion and backing vocals
Chris McNally–keyboards, acoustic guitar and backing vocals
Joe Michelini–acoustic guitar and backing vocals (“Take Me I’m Yours”)