uk live dates - 1999
reviews and setlists
Leicester, Princess Charlotte, January 21st
On arrival at the venue it was not what we expected, yes we knew it
was a small gig but it was nothing larger than the average public house.
Ladies and Gentlemen, no need to panic, normal service has been resumed. But right now I have a brick in my stomach as I'm not entirely sure how long it will continue. The blue and white posters said *most* of it. A line of four familiar men pictured head and shoulders with an urban backdrop - announcing a warm-up gig prior to supporting Blondie. It's been a strange fortnight in SQUEEZEWORLD, with Chris Difford roaming pastures new and Marianne Faithfull filching the latest drummer. Among the rapidly swelling Paradise Bar audience there is anticipation, mingled with fear, hope coupled with dread; the occasional;
"The drummer's what?"
This is my first time seeing a Diff-less Squeeze, almost the same model that graced parts of the US earlier this year, and I wonder, with no bass octave, no quietly frugging, sultry, dark-haired, bite-sized rhythm guitarist. What am I in for?
Taking the stage just after 9:30pm, a be-suited Glenn intones;
"And then there were four..." Needlessly apologetic, the band completes "Another Nail..." to an ecstatic and drawn out "Wooof!!!", most of the appreciation aimed at new boy Jim Kimberley on drums. (We love you Ash!). Jim Kimberley is technically and rhythmically the offspring of G. Lavis. I'd swear his kit was unnecessarily mic'd, as the power of his drumming thunked it's way crisply and clearly through to the back of the venue, taking a route straight through everyone's chest to get there, constant, consistant and raw. Shaven blonde hair, big happy grin, steel-rim glasses, Kimberley has the makings of a svelte man-mountain and his opener for Another Nail was flawless. Glenn almost clambers through the drum kit to hug him while heads nod, fingers point and cameras flash Jim's baptism. Straight into "Electric Trains" with a large portion of the audience supplying back up, Glenn's silk and velvet voice soaring above all, singing that other bloke's words and telling his stories. Chris D. just out of sight in our mindís eye, his voice is there in Hilaire's bass, both satisfying and stinging. We know what's missing, as Glenn automatically introduces his absent writing partner, but despite this, Squeeze still sound so complete.
Baby Holland is facing forward, almost full frontal on the keyboards. Now with room to move and groove, this he does, a quiet smile and watchful eyes suggesting potential for mischief-making as the keyboards are thankfully turned up. The first verse of "Some Fantastic Place" is strummed on Glenn's electric, followed by "Tempted" and "Up The Junction". The eager audience occupies the rectangular-donut shaped venue, with a bar running along the middle, and they are crammed together all the way to the back wall, where women stand on chairs and the lads pretend that Squeeze are not their heroes just to impress the women on the chairs. No dice. The women dismiss them and crane to see the band.
Glenn eventually announces that the set will be shorter than the usual (boos) as they've only had one rehearsal and there's only so many songs they can practice in that time (appreciative applause). Now, I'm not calling him a liar, but it is hard to believe this tight-knit foursome have barely rehearsed. Jim has certainly done his homework, only missing the "ratta-tatta" next to the chicken bones of "Melody Motel". As for "Sleeping With A Friend", I'm not entirely sure what the words are now - and neither is Glenn. I toyed with the idea of bringing a box of tissues and a comedy rubber hand to lob onto the stage with the song's opening bars. I should have followed it through. Yes, Glenn, we saw that look of abject disbelief at the end even though you turned away to look at the others.
Glenn continually inspires with off-the-cuff solos, playing mainly a battered black solid-body Fender Telecaster with surprisingly small hands. This time, there is no tribe of thirteen year-old girlies, but midway through the set it's noticeable that many present are bopping along with smiles on their faces, apparently ignorant of the lyrics. Maybe this humble writer is being perverse but this is a good sign, of new people, new audience, mixed in with the faithful returnees. Spotted in the crowd are Nick Harper, onelisters David Amos and Adrian Simpson, and a comedian famous for getting his willy out on stage. Plus, I'm strangely drawn to a youthful C. Difford look-a-like, powering a boisterous scrum at the foot of the stage to Chris Holland's right.
A furious "Footprints" and again comes that second deeper octave. Is it the bass or just memory? A glance left reveals the Diff-a-like getting down like nobody's business and I curse myself for standing next to a man whose pogoing days are long past. "Take Me I'm Yours" - complete with arm movements from the audience - gives us Glenn and Hilaire's musical standoff, a saucy show of fretboard gymnastics, eliciting a frenzied whooping from the Penda-worshipping cluster at Hilaire's elbow. With little in-between chatter, the band gets down to business in a determined, truncated run-through - with no surrender (apart from "Sleeping With..." but let's forget about that. Next time, eh G.)
So why do I have a brick in my stomach at this very moment? A mere 90 minutes after watching an audience of disbelieving Squeeze junkies baying and howling a highland war cry for a full eight minutes, before the DJ signals the definite end by fading up a record on the PA? Why? Well, about 5 people out of hundreds left during those 8 minutes as the rest were hanging on for what they could get after Glenn's finale bombshell. He manages to quieten the "Coffee" humming crowd and says.... (now take this with a pinch of salt folks, as it was partly the adrenaline talking) ...he says that this may be the last incarnation of Squeeze as the band is currently in a state of "winding down". Although this can be read at least two ways, I believe this is only for the immediate future as echoed by the June 99 announcement.
This was just a warm-up, too. I can't help thinking that Blondie's fans will feel short changed when the "support" band leave the stage in the next few weeks. I strongly suspect this "support" band may start a wave but they won't be around to surf it. At least, not for another couple of years... So, surf's up. Squeeze are stylin'. Catch the wave, it could be the last for a few Summers. It just doesn't seem possible.
Sleeping With A Friend
Short (for Squeeze!) but sweet. Basically, they were brilliant as usual. I hate saying that because it feels like taking them for granted, but they were so together, you couldn't see the join. They could do the set in their sleep, so had room to kick back and ENJOY themselves... and they're all so cute. With the semi-new line-up, any sense of disintegration was wiped away by the end of the first song. They work so hard and they seem unstoppable. But for Glenn, Chris D. is the third rail.
Though as they said in The Terminator, the future's not set. Anything can happen - and probably will.
True love never dies. I love Squeeze.
From Michelle Booth:Birmingham, June 21st, National Exhibition Centre
I went to the gig with a couple of friends but we were a few minutes late after parking in the car park. As we approached the entrance we could hear the loud tones of Glenn's voice singing with some great drumming in the background. As soon as we realised that the group had already begun, we ran into the NEC.
For the benefit of anyone else who were at this venue tonight, we were sitting in: Block 14 B 105.
The first thing I did when sitting down in the seat was scan the group for visible members. They were:
GLENN TILBROOK - Vocals and electric/accoustic guitars
HILAIRE PENDA - Bass
CHRIS HOLLAND - Keyboards
JIM KIMBERLEY - Drums
The sound was a bit muffled, but this was down to the venue rather than the musicians. They all did an excellent job and went down well with the die-hard Blondie fanatics, some of them even joined in when the guys did "Up the Junction".
Even though Chris Difford obviously wasn't there, the rest of the guys were so good that you really didn't notice.
Here is the list of the tracks played, although they are not in order:
IS THAT LOVE?
And from Domino:
As you can see, Glenn didn't choose "Cool for Cats", maybe because it has always been a "Chris Difford" song?
"Take Me I'm Yours" was extended in length by Glenn playing one of his amazing guitar solo's. He can rock with the best of them all right.
All in all it was a great set and it was good to see the group playing again (even if it was for such a short time). If I had my way, I would have put Squeeze on as the main attraction, and put Blondie on as the support!
Page Two of 1999 UK Tour Reviews
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