Leeds, Town & Country Club, December 6th
a combined review cos it was the same set list and it gives me a chance to generalise a bit!
I'll start with the highlight: Manchester. The encore. Glenn decides to have a laugh. He sets out the groundrules: no standing in front of anyone, no singing in the mic unless you're asked to and then he invited us on stage.. hundreds of fans climb up, to the bemusement of our bald-headed "security personnel" friends. Everyone boogies on down .. (God aren't some of the band's fans OLD!). I was sitting upstairs so couldn't get down in time.. damned shame. The end of the gig comes with BCIB and the band realise that with a bunch of fans on stage there can't be any cool and trendy way to leave the stage .. so they just wander off slowly, chatting to fans as they go. It was the best way to end a gig I've ever come across!
Manchester saw a few technical glitches.. both Glenn and Chris suffered from guitar tuning problems (by the way, can anyone tell me what Chris's telecaster is? It looks like a paisley body with a Shergold neck stuck on.. and I'm pretty sure it didn't used to have it!) but everything was ironed out by Leeds.
A question remains about the choice of one or two songs: OK Bonkers gets better by the night, but why do the band play Donkey Talk.. it's a studio track if ever there was one .. and they could easily have substituted another track instead.. at Leeds you could hear everyone turning away and nattering as soon as it kicked in. I'd have liked a couple of acoustic-only numbers but with a rhythm section from heaven, you want to use them as much as you can. Chris Holland's chilling out a bit now: his solo stint is going down well.
What made the whole Squeeze week better for me, personally, was that I decided to go shopping in Leeds the day after the Leeds gig and bumped into Chris as he came out of Harvey Nichols department store. You've guessed it, he was doing a spot of clothes shopping. His love of Leeds' Victorian Quarter Clothes shops is well known and seems to be going on unabated. He seemed quite surprised when I said the mass invasion of the stage in Manchester had gone down well. I'm interested to know if anyone else was there and what they thought.
Anyway, a great time was had by all.. wish I could have gone to more of the gigs.
From Stephen Towler:
I'll keep this brief as I'm sure there will be other reviews of this show posted. Everyone within a twenty yard radius of me seemed to be writing down the set list!
For my money this was the best show I've seen on this tour yet. The whole band seemed up for it in a way they didn't in Manchester. the set list was back to the same one they used in Blackburn with the addition of 'First Thing Wrong as the second song in the first encore. no invitation on stage tonight, thank goodness. Hilaire was awesome.
From Steven Armstrong:
Yes, another good show in Leeds. The highlight for me was the inclusion of First Thing Wrong during the first encore. I have to confess that I didn't recognise it until the vocals started, but then the same could be said for a few of the old favourites which have benefited from new arrangements, such as Melody Motel.
As someone else has pointed out, This Summer was greeted with the sort of enthusiasm usually reserved for Up The Junction! It is good to see a newer song achieving Squeeze classic status.
Something else I have never seen before is the (apparently ritual?) throwing of toothbrushes during Tempted. Well actually it was only the one bloke in front of me throwing a toothbrush, but it was a bit of a novelty to me.
I personally thought that the band were a little more jaded than when I saw them in the North East three weeks ago, but the enthusiasm of the audience was infectious. This point was fully demonstrated by the "Black Coffee" chant beginning before the band even had a chance to leave the stage and continuing when they came on for the encore. Glenn actually joined in - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em I guess.
Finally (for those who care) those tall people were in front of me again - I never realised how short 5'8'' was! Then again, if I'd known Leeds as well as I thought I knew Leeds, I would have been there half an hour earlier and two rows further forward......
The opening songs were fabulous and similar to previous set lists. First time I've heard First thing Wrong live and I was totally amazed. Fabulous live song! As they took the stage I realised that I had the thought...OK, they're wearing suits....it then dawned on me , hey this is good cos I CAN see their suits! Didn't get that opporchancity at The Amersham gig. A second thought then came to me a while later: I was taking much more notice of which songs had great guitar solos, the crowd reactions, feedback noises, etc. I have concluded now that I have onelistitis, I was never like this before. I used to be able to go to gigs and just drift through the whole concert unaware of these things, just boogieing and singing away, could never have told you what songs they played or didn't play! It's not a nasty affliction it just added a new dimension.
I loved their 'heavier' stuff, and the long guitar solos. Fingertips was lost on the majority of folk but finished up with a fabulous solo from Hilaire and then a great guitar solo too. It's never been a favourite of mine, though I have had more time for it recently. I don't see it as a great live song.
I took two friends who had never seen them before but knew all the singles. They were delighted and what an added to treat to have surprise guest Justin Currie joining them for three songs! (We can work it out, Roll to me, Labelled with love.)
I guess the front row will have a completely different outlook on the whole thing although the overall sentiment may be the same. The live reviews of the tour so far have been great and I'm sure Glasgow was as good, though we're biased of course!
From Mike McCormick:
I took a couple of top musical types to the Shepherds Bush show on Friday. They had a great time. However, they were much keener on hearing new numbers than the 'classics'. They like Squeeze a lot, and we had some very interesting discussions (not) on how technically perfect they are, but they are not mad fans. But as I was saying, they loved all the songs from Ridiculous and Domino. They were not really interested in Cool For Cats or Pulling Mussels, etc. One of them said: 'I could almost switch off and listen to it in my head. I've heard it so many times'. The favourites of the night were Walk Away and Sleeping with a Friend. And Tourniquet (spelling?) with the bloke from Headswim (top band).
By the way, get excited now, Glenn said 'we are recording tonight for a live album'.
From Vikki Smart:
Shepherd's Bush Empire, Sat. 12/12/98
What a fantastic way to finish a tour . . . well, the end of the tour for me, anyway!
As usual, Shepherd's Bush was the absolute climax, the 'cherry on top' of the tour. Packed to the rafters, the atmosphere, the audience - oh, and the band! - made it a night to remember. Oh, it was all so achingly perfect . . . !
From the very first moment when the guys came on and Glenn told us that "Oh, I'm feeling good . . .", we knew that we were in for a great night. When he added that we were all to behave because they were recording that night for a new live album . . . I don't think I have to expand on the response from the crowd!
Having driven from Cardiff that morning, I was chuffed to have actually made it to the venue to catch the support for the first time. Dean Johnson was fantastic - lyrically and vocally, the guy is really talented, and his debut album has been added to my already considerable Christmas list. My appreciation for Nick seems to grow each time I see him - that guy's voice is incredible and way surpasses any other artist I've ever seen live. To couple that with such a gifted guitarist - all I can say is, what a build up!
Although Squeeze's setlist pretty much followed what is has been throughout the entire tour, it was nevertheless a faultless night. Every single member of the band played to utter perfection, and although I've said it before, I'll say it again - the enthusiasm of the guys is impossible not to adopt. Of course, the fact that the gig was standing made sure that we were all off from the moment the guys broke into Prisoner - an exceptional track to get everyone up and dancing! Highlights of the set included another another incredible rendition of First Thing Wrong - having now been incorporated into the meat of the set, not the encore, and sounding every bit as raw and energetic as the album version - Play On making a very welcomed comeback (I've since been informed that it had only been dropped as Glenn was suffering with the flu and couldn't manage it!), and Up the Junction, This Summer, Is That Love and Annie all elected a magnificent response from the audience who easily challenged Chris for the backing vocals!
All the new tracks - Domino, Sleeping With a Friend, To Be a Dad and Bonkers - are now much better received, especially from such a dedicated audience, with Little King (In my very humble opinion) easily the pick of the live bunch. I still stand by my previous views on Fingertips and Donkey Talk, although - in the spirit of such a fantastic atmosphere and a great set - they did seem to move on a bit quicker than previous gigs! And as for Glenn's incredible solos . . . all that can be said is, where the hell does he find his energy?
Chris H. took his obligatory lead vocals for Let the Good Times Roll, sounding both vocally and musically astounding (although, IMHO, I think he's been cruelly underestimated and under-used during the tour), although the first surprise of the night stemmed from our very own little grinning Hilaire finally taking a lead vocal. 'Ay Te Te-Fee' was brought to us by a surprisingly powerful and fabulous voice - even though I don't think anyone knew what the hell he was singing about!
As for the second surprise? I have to come clean and confess that, on the "Weirdest Things Squeeze Have Ever Done On Stage" front, Saturday night took the biscuit. Just imagine this. There you are, grooving your way through Take Me in the second encore, enjoying Hilaire's infectious basslines, Ash's incredible energetic playing and D&T's fabulous guitar work, when Glenn suddenly announces that a Very Special Guest is going to join them on stage. Fabulous, you cry! Is it Nick? Jools? Another unprecedented appearance from Elton John?
Nah. You recall that, although you had missed the previous night's gig, someone had told you that the lead singer from Headswim had joined the guys for a couple of numbers. Brilliant, you muse. But then imagine your abject amazement when a belly dancer walks on for the 'amusing bellydancers' number! Bizarre! Saying that, our Amusing Bellydancer did indeed distract everyone from their wine - as well as their beer, lager and coke! - and, as incredible as it sounds, she did not look too out of place wriggling her belly in the middle of a Squeeze gig! During the instrumental she took hold of vocals and, with a beautiful, soaring voice (which I have since learnt was Egyptian), sang in her native language. Weird, but a beautiful weird, I think . . .
I'm not sure whether it was the home crowd or the knowledge that they were recording that made that night's performance so incredible, but there was definitely something there that made Saturday one of the best performances I've ever witnessed of the guys - and, believe me, that's not an inconsiderable number. It's not often I can say that a gig went flawlessly or faultlessly, but - I'm not sorry to say - this time I can . . . and even after the three hour drive back home afterwards, I was still high from the gig. I'm just so dismayed to know that that was my last night of the tour . . .
A huge thanks to Zaena, Suzanne, Mark and Jim for helping to finish of a fantastic night - hell, a fantastic tour - with such a blast - it's a night that won't be forgotten for a long time! And a special thanks to Suzanne and Zaena for helping me out with passes and tickets throughout the entire tour - you're both Top Chicks, cheers! (I mean, it's the only way I can justify to my boyfriend why I go to see the guys so much during one tour . . . )
My only regret now is that that was my last night until next tour.
But I guess I'll see ya there, then!!
1st encore: Sleeping with a Friend, Footprints, Hourglass
Wow. Have I ever seen anything more amazing than this gig? The answer is quite simply no. This was just an absolutely superb concert, with the three new'uns fitting in so well. I don't know how Glenn does it, but his guitar playing is legendary: he played everything to perfection and sang so magnificently. How he managed to change chords without fault and maintain the long vocal on the end of Third Rail was unbelievable. Chris played so cooly with an approving eye on the appreciative crowd, and a huge grin which failed to disappear.
I was surprised that Prisoner opened the set, but in no way upset. Absolutely faultless and it warmed the crowd up immediately. I was so chuffed to hear First Thing Wrong get a play, and the ending was magical. Glenn explained that the gig was being recorded for a possible live album, so he didn't talk to the crowd as much as he usually did, until the first encore. I really do hope however that this does make the live album, because the rendition of Melody Motel, with Chris Hollands brilliant piano solo at the start, was so great. The rest of the band joined in with perfection, and the hairs stood up on my neck. I was very impressed by how tight the band were, they played together so well, and isn't it pleasing that every single member of the group can sing (including Ash with headset), giving life to the backing vocals.
For two and a half hours of amazing songs for a mere pittance...surely this is the greatest show on earth! I also had a thought that Squeeze can never play Black Coffee In Bed in the main set, because we wouldn't be able to call them out for the encores with the DE DE DERS of the classic!
A gig that will long stay with me for the joy all five of them gave...please don't wait so long next time and come back very very soon.
Simply the greatest band in Britain today...an obvious title due to this gig.
De De De Der Der Der ...........
Attended the gig as above and just thought I'd give you the highlights of the night's events. For those of you who don't know the Concert Hall this is a venue with great acoustics that is really designed for live music.
As there were only a couple of dates left on the tour all merchandise was being sold half price. Not so suprising in itself but more surprising was our man Tilbrook (resplendent in Christmas party hat!!!) drumming up trade himself!!!!
The gig itself was up to the usual high standard we all expect with the highpoints being;
Hilaire singing a Cajun song (in French) (a storming round of applause for this for which Hilaire seemed almost embarassed!!!)
Glenn completely messing up the opening riff to "sleeping with a friend" (and along with the rest of the band struggling not to collapse into a heap of laughter!!!)
All in all it was nearly 2.5 hours top quality entertainment with the whole band on real top form (good to hear stuff from "Frank" and also the first album) - although strangely no "Labelled with Love". Contrary to previous gig reports songs from the new album ("domino","to be a dad", "Donkey Talk","Little King","Sleeping with a friend") were well recieved.
The orchestrated stage invasion (on Glenn's inception) went without a hitch and there weren't any show offs!!!!
The more observant members of the audience would have noticed the mikes pointing towards the audience at the begining (explaining Glenn's somewhat businesslike approach to the set) which towards the end he announced was being recorded for the "Possible live album".
So in recap - a great concert if you were there and if you weren't boy did you miss out!!!!!
As you would probably expect the last night of the tour was a jolly and 'relaxed' occasion!
There were surprises for both support acts. Glenn appeared twice in Nick Harper's set - firstly to partake of a game of football and then to play drums. Glenn also reappeared during Dean Johnson's performance to play guitar during the final song, which also had Nick on drums.
Squeeze were as brilliant as you would expect them to be. The set list was similar to that in Leeds with Glenn in particularly sparkling form on the guitar - although we couldn't work out what caused the band such amusement during Donkey Talk - surely the only song ever to rhyme donkey with wonky!
The second encores saw Nick join the band to perform Smithereens and then Dean came on to perform a tremendous version of Iggy Pop's Passengers. The inevitable Black Coffee In Bed was interrupted by the whole crew coming on stage to present Chris and Glenn with cakes to celebrate 25 years of writing songs together. Both recipients seemed suitably moved!
Only disappointment was the lack of song from Chris Holland because of a sore throat. Still as the band played for nearly two and a half hours we shouldn't really grumble!
A tremendous night. Here's to the next 25 years!