“As you can see, we split-up already” joked Chris Difford before singing “Cool for Cats.” This was while his on-and-off-again, career-spanning musical collaborator, Glenn Tilbrook left the stage to change out of his pajamas. Chris later made a similar wardrobe change after Glenn returned for a solo piano version of one of Squeeze’s biggest hits, “Black Coffee in Bed.” While these two have had some differences over the years, those jammies symbolized the comfort the two had throughout a weekend of Southern California shows (San Diego was the next night.) that kicked off their short US tour.
Seldom performing as a duo, Chris and Glenn have also added some shtick to a tour they bill as “A Brand New Production: The At Odds Couple.” They started with a short skit playing two mates sharing a mock flat in front of a video screen that displayed images throughout the evening. Those PJs were the attire for their entrance which saw them plop into a pair of twin beds from which they later awoke to share a morning bevy at the kitchen table, all this while opening background music played.
After this playful intro, they kicked things off with their 1978 debut single, “Take Me I’m Yours,” before the two solo songs that accommodated their change of clothes. The show eventually featured all of the Squeeze hit singles (save “Hourglass”) with the only set change between the first two nights coming in the penultimate song slot. We were also treated to five songs from their great new record, Cradle to the Grave, which had its American release on the night of the Anaheim show.
The show was broken into two short sets sandwiched with a brief intermission and closing with a two-song encore. Each half had within it a three-song solo set from each of the two plus a quick Q&A segment where “The Man in the Golden Cape” took questions from the audience. While no great secrets were revealed, it was fun to hear their replies which were both serious and humorous.
While the recent years have seen Squeeze fans often settling for Tilbrook solo shows, there really is something special about not only seeing him on stage with his lyricist partner, but also hearing Chris’s distinctive full-octave lower backing vocals. And what a kick it was to see things work in reverse when Glenn joined Chris to sing backing vocals on his splendid solo track “Cowboys are My Weakness.”
As for other bits out of the ordinary, Chris took the lead on “Electric Trains,” a Squeeze cut sang by Glenn that Chris later reprised on one of his solo records. While this was a bit of a challenge for Glenn to drop his key for the backing vocals, after a bumpy first night, they got it much better on the second try in LA.
Glenn’s solo set included two odd song choices: the silly crowd sing-along “Ice Cream” from his latest solo record and a rare piano performance of “The Elephant Ride” from the 1982 album Sweets for a Stranger.
Some of the billings for this tour have labelled it as “Squeeze Acoustic” which is a misnomer. Glenn managed many a stunning moment in the spotlight with his electric guitar, most notably on an extended solo during “Pulling Mussels (From a Shell).” Both also had their turns at playing a cool green electric Sitar-Guitar on a few numbers.
While both nights had some empty seats, it remains to say that there is still a strong legacy of hard-core Squeeze fans that will stick with these guys for as long as they want to keep on playing. The action at merch table was overwhelming to see, and on this tour the band is also selling nightly live CD recordings right after the show. Chris and Glenn also catered to a healthy reception line each night where they signed things and greeted their faithful.
This was a great musical weekend to be in SoCal, and as one of the Squeeze faithful, I will say that this is a tour that no fan wants to miss.
- Take Me I’m Yours
- Cool for Cats
- Black Coffee in Bed
- Electric Trains
- Some Fantastic Place
- Beautiful Game
- Slap and Tickle
- Fat as a Fiddle
- Cowboys are My Weakness
- Up the Junction
- Ice Cream
- The Elephant Ride
- Annie Get Your Gun
- From the Cradle to the Grave
- Happy Days
- Pulling Mussels (From a Shell)
- Is That Love
- Another Nail in My Heart (Anaheim) / If I Didn’t Love You (Los Angeles)
- Goodbye Girl
Glenn Tilbrook–guitars, piano and vocals
Chris Difford–guitars and vocals