uk live dates -  1999
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Liverpool, Neptune Theatre, November 5th

From Alan Tapp:

Not having seen the band LIVE for eleven months, withdrawal symptoms were becoming evident, however Neptune Theatre, Liverpool, 5/11/99 was well worth
the wait.

The evening got off to a great start due to the unexpected bonus of a brief chat with Ash and Hilaire in the Neptune bar. The gig had a somewhat trickier start with two aborted attempts of Is That Love. Glenn apologised and led the band offstage while the roadies sorted out the problem. Two minutes later they were back to rapturous applause. Not wanting to risk the 'Third Time Lucky' approach, Glenn resumed with This Summer. This had several fans out of their seats and frontstage like a shot.

After a couple of songs one observer shouted "Where's Chris ?". Glenn began to explain to those not familiar with the latest line up, but was creased up when some wit shouted "Where's Harry ?" Glenn admitted to having 'No Idea !!' and went on to explain that due to current circumstances he has had to start penning some lyrics himself for the first time in about 25 years. Well if Interviewing Randy Newman is anything to go by - I'll eagerly await the release of the solo album he is currently working on. It was a very catchy number considering it was the first time I'd heard it and contains a couple of moments that will confuse the 'auto seek next track' buffs (You'll understand when you hear it !!).

The next surprise came after 5 songs, Glenn announcing that there would be a 7 minute break. In fact Glenn re-appeared in half that time armed with an acoustic guitar and treated us to four songs performed solo. The rest of the band then rejoined him onstage by which time virtually the entire upstairs audience were on their feet singing and dancing. An encore of four numbers completed a 23 song show (considerably less than what I've been treated to at previous shows - but over the years I could never accuse the band of short changing the audience).

The highlight of the evening was still to come. About an hour after the show I left the Old Monk pub to catch up with some friends. who do I bump into in Hanover Street ? Yes Mr Tilbrook himself. After signing my ticket he agrees to join me in some liquid refreshment (the look on my friends faces as Glenn and I entered the pub will live with me forever). I'd loved to have spent a few hours  chatting over a few Guinesses with this legend alone - but that was hardly likely considering his gig had not long finished across the road! Nevertheless, we did manage to reminisce about a few previous gigs and about the Charlton .v. Liverpool games from last season (although being a Liverpool supporter, in hindsight I should have focused on the music!).

The Neptune was a surprising choice of venue and I thought that the Liverpool audience was strangely subdued compared to previous visits of the band to the City. Talking to Glenn later, he was pleased with it from the bands point of view. Perhaps having to concentrate on not tumbling from the Upper Balcony didn't help my cause? No matter, it was still wonderful.

I can't help wondering if that's the last I'll see of Squeeze as an item. If it really is the end of an era I can always cling to the hope of a 'one-off' outdoor event similar to the one that helped get Madness back together at Finsbury Park. Squeeze at Calderstones Park ? How about it Glenn ? Still as long as my hero keeps touring solo then I'm well pleased. No other artist has given me more enjoyment. Scanning the list of dates for his solo tour, it looks like Telfords Warehouse in Chester is next for me. Tempted ? I already have my ticket !

Set List

This Summer
Is That Love
Interviewing Randy Newman
Without You Here With Me
No Place Like Home
When The Hangover Strikes
Letting Go
Slap & Tickle
Pulling Mussels
Third Rail
In The Morning
Up The Junction
Annie Get Your Gun
Black Coffee In Bed
Little King
Goodbye Girl
Another Nail In My Heart
Some Fantastic Place
Take Me I'm Yours

Basingstoke, The Anvil, November 6th
From Kay Jennings:

Basingstoke...what a dump! A 'modern' town with a recently-rebuilt centre, it took some time to find the Anvil, after some fruitless rounding of countless roundabouts and following of signs which disappeared. We (hubby and I) got there at 6 - gig due to start at 7.45 - no sign of a queue, we went looking for food among the maze of shopping malls. Big joke, unless we fancied a McDonalds; back towards the venue, hoping for better luck in a different direction....success! The Anvil had a cafe bar where we could eat while waiting in comfort and warmth - and get close enough to the doors to bag a position right under Glenn's nose when they opened!

The support, Dean Johnston, was familiar - he supported last winter's tour too - and not bad for that. At just after 8.30 the lads took the stage; they were obviously in fine form, no signs of the tiredness one might expect after a gruelling American tour, thoroughly enjoying themselves throughout. (Sartorial aside....grey suit, lilac shirt, black shiny shoes- bet he's back to the spotty shirt for the solo gigs next month!) Chris Holland's place was ably filled by Chris Braide (keen on Chrises aren't they!), Hilaire and Ash were superb (the best rhythm section yet I reckon), and as for Glenn, well......Guitar God doesn't really sum it up adequately. He's slipped effortlessly into the role of Frontman, blasts out far more guitar solos than he ever used to, keeps the chat going, loves every minute of it, infects us with his enthusiasm. During the now-obligatory acoustic spot he went truly unplugged and led us Pied Piper-like into the bar, where he stood shakily on a table and gave us Labelled With Love, followed by a rousing Ticket To Ride, then came back in for Temptation For Love, beautifully performed. The new song Interviewing Randy Newman shows much promise for the solo album next year, being lyrically every bit as quirky as a Chris song; the style must have rubbed off over the years! I forget the set list, but among the usual oldies it was good to hear a different selection of Domino songs, Without You Here being one of them, and the brilliant In The Morning a highlight, as well as Little King and of course Domino.

On the down side, I felt Chris' second guitar was sorely missed at times, and its lack meant that some of my favourites (SFP, Walk Away) had been dropped from the set; also missing of course were the distinctive backing vocals, most noticeable on Take Me (though Hilaire's wonderful bass made up for it). And did I imagine it or was Glenn slightly pissed with Chris when explaining his absence? After all, it's difficult to keep up the 'touring is bad for my health' excuse when he's out on the road with Jools at the moment! ...'used to stand there, doesn't stand there any more.....sod it!' I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, it came to an end far too soon, and I couldn't help feel it was the end of an era - the last proper Squeeze gig, perhaps for ever (I don't count the Blondie thing; not their gigs, not their audience). One to treasure. Grateful thanks to Glenn and Chris and all the many band members who have given such pleasure (musically!) over the years, and here's looking forward to the start of a new era and that solo album!

London, London Arena, November 13th
From Russell:

The sound was big. So was the Arena, a place dedicated to team sports, spacious with an oddly "vacant" feeling to it what with the seating placed in regimented blocks down on the main floor of the venue and the steel bleachers reaching up the outer walls. Felt remote, like a prairie, with the odd hoot and shout from people trying catch each other's attention. To be honest, it was like a gigantic brick barn.  Dead on 7:30 the lights cut out to a "Woooooo ?!" from an off-guard crowd, and the band arrived. They launched into "Another Nail..." which brought idle Blondie fans racing into the auditorium to find their seats in the dark, treading on toes, tripping over bags, hopping over seats. For the opener, I mainly saw silhouetted bottoms and heads, but felt the bleachers vibrating to a collective rhythmic stomp. Then the view cleared and there they were.

It was fun/heartstopping to see the foursome so far away, picked out by powerful spotlights, across a sea of nodding heads. But the sound was big and earned it's place in this huge setting. By the third song, it seems EVERYONE had found their seats, giving the band the kind of attention headliners get. I tried not to feel surprised, until "Slap and Tickle", my first hearing live. I don't know how they decided what to play, as they played for 45 minutes, both familiar and fresh, "In The Morning" going down particularly well. I could tell this from the now terrible, boneshaking judder of the metal seating. But the sound quality was not good. Heavy "bottom", almost no "top", not as crisp as it could have been, it was like listening with your jumper pulled up over your head. A lot of Glenn's vocals were lost as a result. But the guitar solos sliced through the muggy mix. It seems the sound problem was the same for Blondie's set too.

Glenn's curls are back, and he was flapping them all over the shop. I cannot give a fashion report as my eyesight is only average and I couldn't see that far. They were all wearing clothes, I'm sure of that. I could see the odd fan, checking their watch, plotting their route out of the auditorium and as they rounded off with "Take Me..." a tiny trickle began, purposeful, with lips clamped shut for fear all of Blondie's die-hards would jump ship and cram themselves into the Glengall with those "in the know".

GLENGALL: 15 minutes later.

The suite was one side, the bar was on the other. The bar was full. Was ANYONE there to see Blondie?

The suite is wide with a low ceiling, flourescent lighting, oatmeal carpet and white walls and people rehearsing what to do or say. This meet and greet gesture is already much appreciated and there is an air or unreality about the whole scene, some folks adopting a nonchalant look, pretending they're not jumping everytime the doors open and someone breezes in. The occasional flutter of nervous giggles from a gaggle of women. Rick "Never Gonna Give You Up" Astley, 80's popster and quiff-boy, lurking and failing miserably to look like *one of the crowd*. I love you Rick (((sigh))).

The doors open, the manager Suzanne ushers Glenn in and he stands there, startled and startling, with a big mad grin on his face. It reminded me of a post-nightclub kebab, you don't know where to start on it but Start, you must. We were Glenn's kebab. (Queen of the bad metaphor strikes again). After the spontaneous applause dies down, Glenn picks out a corner of the room and makes a bee-line for an amazed bunch of fans. With Chris Braide (mmm), Ash Soan brings up the rear. How can such a compact man make such a powerful sound? And why did it appear there were several women plotting to overpower and kidnap him? Hilaire sneaked in and stood *very* still as he talked with a few folks. He seems to be one of those quiet ones. You know, they're the worst.

And so the mingling begins. Among the gibbering wrecks (aka fans) was a woman all the way from New York, who had a good old grope of Glenn's back as they posed for a malfunctioning camera. And a man who got Glenn to sign a five pound note (now worth at least £7?), plus the young, the lovely, Adrian S, sometime onelister(eGrouper?!) and the young Diff-a-like from the New Cross show!

Glenn had time for everyone, but rather like meeting the Queen, I won't divulge the contents of anyone's chat with the Duke Of Twang (or whatever you lot are calling him nowadays). I'll say that as time went on, he was hemmed right into a corner, back to the wall and the fans just kept on a-comin'. You know how Squeeze can go 2 and a half hours non-stop? And you know how they only did a 45 minute set? Well, meeting a hoard of sweating fans is a piece of cake to them and they wandered about the suite without a care. Glenn was wearing an eye-crossing, blue?-no-purple? short sleeved shirt, beige combat trousers and trainers/sneakers. Ash - jeans, trainers and an olive-green t-shirt. Also spotted, guys from Valley Entertainment!! Not sure who and how many went kicking themselves into the night, but the boys were chirpy to the last as they announced they were off the watch the rest of Blondie's set. Blondie was by now chugging out "Atomic" and elsewhere there was a rowdy, but earnest rendition of "Never Gonna Give You Up...."

It's an odd contrast to the times we fans would have to surround a venue, guard all exits, chase the Squeeze tour bus down the road in the middle of the night and end up face down in the gutter, utterly dejected. We're spoiled! If they ran, would you chase them?

I would.

Even without the lovely little dark one.

Newcastle, Newcastle Arena, November 16th
From Steven Armstrong:
    It was an omen. 

    As I climbed out of the shower to get ready for my second Squeeze gig in as many weeks, Virgin Radio played Up The Junction.  The scene was set for a good night. 

    Last week in Cardiff, Glenn had battled with - rather than played - his guitar, and the evening was beset with technical difficulties and poor sound quality.  Newcastle Arena was going to be different. 

    * * *

    "We are Squeeze, and this is what we do!", announced Mr Tilbrook confidently before launching into the opener just before half past seven.  Already he was in command, and the succession of classic songs in the first fifteen minutes cemented his position. 

    The polite applause gradually turned to genuine appreciation and banter with the audience even culminated in a James Brown impersonation!  Somehow he got away with it in front of 4000 rampant non-Squeeze fans - most of whom were still finding their seats.

    Things were going well and it was time to try something new.  Glenn informed the uninitiated of his brief flirtation with Radio 2 in the summer and we were treated to "Interview With Randy Newman".  The lyrics were hard to make out, but the sound was pure Squeeze - complete with not one, but two false endings. 

    Footprints disappeared from the set, but no one really missed it as we got a couple of extra tracks from Domino instead.  Little King is a storming live track, but my particular favourite was In The Morning.  Chris B. briefly abandoned his keyboards to play acoustic guitar and Ash's drumming was superb.  Even without the customary distorted vocals of the album, it was an excellent demonstration to everyone of what Squeeze have been doing since they were last on Top Of The Pops!

    The "invisible" lyricist was missed.  The others tried with the backing vocals, bless them, but there was no "gravel" to it!  If you stopped to think about it, we only had half of that magical partnership, a part time keyboard player, a bass player who doesn't speak English and wasn't that Marianne Faithfull's drummer at the back?  But what the hell.  The sound was Squeeze, Glenn was enjoying himself again, and so were we. 

    But forty five minutes after it began, the night was over.  We were on a high and ready to drive home with the car radio turned up loud. 

    And then someone mentioned that Blondie were also going to be on!  "Are they still going?", I thought to myself.  Well, there wasn't much on TV anyway, so we stayed.  Sadly.  Blondie may be many things, but they are not good live, not worth £22.50, and certainly NOT Squeeze! 

    But forget them, when are those Glenn solo gigs again.....?

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