mon 09/12/2019

Squeeze, The Dome, Brighton | reviews, news & interviews

Squeeze, The Dome, Brighton

Squeeze, The Dome, Brighton

Despite a flat crowd and a closed bar, Tilbrook, Difford and co deliver

Squeeze, with Glenn Tilbrook (centre) a great deal whiskerier than he now is

Any gig is partly defined by its audience. Brighton audiences, particularly Brighton Dome audiences, are usually a lively bunch but tonight’s crowd, at least until beyond halfway through, are still as dummies in their seats, quiet as mice. Looking around is uncanny, like observing a theatre watching a Strindberg play or some such. True, they’re mostly in their fifties but that’s a poor excuse. The last time I saw the Dome this dead was when Ultravox played a couple of years back. Matters weren’t, perhaps, helped by the production company’s disgraceful insistence that the bar – which is outside the performance hall – be closed while the band are on. That was a truly miserable decision.

Nevertheless, with all that said, Squeeze still pulled the rabbit out of the hat. They may have been met with a wall of silence when they tried to start an audience sing-along to “Labelled With Love” and it may have taken all their powers of persuasion to get the majority of the crowd standing and – shocking stuff – even jigging about, but they got there in the end. They are, after all, a band on a bit of a roll, what with a recent BBC Four documentary celebrating their career and a new album due in 2013.

They are one of those bands where it’s easy to forget how many songs you actually know

The documentary reminded what a convoluted journey the core duo of lyricist Chris Difford and guitarist Glenn Tilbrook have been on, blooming from the same early Seventies south London scene that produced Dire Straits but, unlike that band, proving to have enough pith and energy for punk. Always more poetic and timeless than hyped and thrashy, they grew into a reliably lyrical perennial, maintaining a career, on and off through five decades, the current incarnation – containing their early Eighties bassist John Bentley - on the go since 2007.

They arrive on stage to a projected cartoon Bruce Forsyth introducing each band member. Difford is in a black suit and spotty tie and Tilbrook, clean-shaved unlike his recent Catweasle-at-Hogwarts look (pictured below), clad in a shiny purple suit and fetching lime green shoes. They’re a proper band with drummer Simon Hanson and keyboardist Stephen Large (who looks like an escapee from Sparks) very much involved in every performance twist and turn. They kick off with “Bang Bang” and “Annie Get Your Gun” and before long Tilbrook has a mini-keyboard on a trolley that looks like a wizard’s table. He hams it up but the audience is unmoved. New song "Tommy", about a London lowlife, is performed a capella by the whole band with a string accompaniment projected onscreen behind them, but things really move up a pace – of course - when the acoustic section dives into old hits such as a driving, almost Cajun take on the lovely “Take Me I’m Yours” wherein Large attacks an accordion with showy gusto.

Tilbrook’s voice is a high, light instrument but Difford’s is a deep, country-style baritone which he uses to great effect on a wonderful number I wasn’t familiar with, “Cowboys Are My Weakness” (which turns out to come from his 2007 solo album I Didn’t Get Where I Am). A light show plays on them throughout, over what appears to be sections of metal fence floating above them, and their musical diversity is further showcased on the premium Eighties funk of lesser known hit “Hourglass”.

They’re one of those bands where it’s easy to forget how many songs you actually know but as they streak punkily through “Tempted”, “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” and the exquisite kitchen sink drama “Up The Junction”, you’re soon reminded. They encore with “Cool For Cats”, now a brilliantly deadpan slice of Seventies nostalgia, although sang by Difford as if he’s performed it a few too many times, at least until the instrumental break where the whole band lets rip with enthusiasm. They close with “Coffee in Bed”, unfortunately a song I’ve never liked but delivered to a finally eager crowd who indulge in a call’n’response with Tilbrook, followed by he and the band taking a final wander through the venue for an acoustic version of “Goodbye Girl”. Then it’s off out to present their pop-up shop, after which the tour is named, out in the foyer, where they will sell recordings of tonight’s gig along with other bits’n’bobs. Perhaps the bar may even re-open. That would be a canny, if cynical move but I don’t stay to find out.

Watch the video for "Up The Junction"

It takes all their powers of persuasion to get the crowd standing and – shocking stuff – even jigging about

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

For what was a wednesday night gig, and us over fifties having work the next day, you fail to mention the dome was packed with us that intially sat to appreciate the gig and squeeze. In light of the general shit we have to deal with regarding the economy etc, paying bills etc, we all found it reasonable to Pay £90 quid for two tickets and in fact really enjoyed the guys performance as usual. We don't need to swing from the rafters at every gig to be able to enjoy the show. The guys did well. Also admit the bar issue, could have done with more than one drink to break the day. Slightly offended by your summary.

I agree Joe/mags. While the review of Squeeze themselves is great, I didn't realise audiences also came in for critique! What the reviewer fails to mention is the thunderous and sustained applause requesting an encore. The guys in the band looked genuinely happy to come back and deliver. Appreciation of a fantastic night, came in different forms. I actually saw a man (and yes he looked to be in his 50's) on his mates shoulders al la festival style. If you had chosen to stay to see if the bar would re-open, you'd have seen queues of people snaking around for miles waiting to get their CD's signed and meet the band. Would imagine they'd have been there till well after midnight, not bad for 50 some things on a work night!

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters