Squeeze, Magnificent and Tighter Than Ever: 2019 Review

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Squeeze, Bergen PAC, Englewood, NJ, August 20, 2019

The lights grew dim and the familiar sound of Elmer Bernstein’s theme from The Magnificent Seven could be heard. And one at a time the members of Squeeze were introduced over the PA system—seven of them in all—with the biggest applause reserved, naturally, for Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.

The pair founded the group in London over 40 years ago and earned immediate chart success in the U.K. with such well-crafted songs as “Up the Junction” and “Cool For Cats.” Inexplicably, American Top 40 programmers generally turned a deaf ear to the band. It wasn’t until fellow Brit Paul Carrack joined them for one album—their fourth—in 1981, that they even so much as charted on the Hot 100. “Tempted” (with Carrack singing lead) reached #49, while earlier, worthy songs like “Goodbye Girl” and “Another Nail in My Heart” were completed ignored by the U.S. Top 40.

In 1980 and 1981, Squeeze released two personal favorites, Argybargy and East Side Story, filled with plenty of ear candy. Which brings us to their August 20, 2019, concert at Bergen PAC, in Englewood, N.J., a New York City suburb. Billed as “The Squeeze Songbook Tour,” the performance featured no less than seven songs from the pair of albums.

Watch them perform “Tempted” at Bergen PAC

Squeeze’s lineup, which saw turnover over the years, has settled in with several members that are now band veterans. Stephen Large on keys played with Tilbrook during some of the latter’s solo career, and has now been an integral part of Squeeze for some time, as has drummer Simon Hanson.

They’re joined by bass guitarist, Yolanda Charles, and percussionist Steven Smith, who both arrived a few years ago, and multi-instrumentalist Melvin Duffy, who returns for this tour.

If you knew “Hourglass” was the group’s biggest U.S. single, reaching #15 in 1986, you’re obviously a Squeeze aficionado. It’s always a wonder to see Tilbrook singing the speedy verse: Take it to the bridge, throw it overboard, see if it can swim, back to the shore, etc. On the evening’s third number, the entire band joined in on those challenging lyrics.

Watch them perform the song a few nights earlier

Back-to-back with “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” the songs have become great showpieces, the latter featuring a nifty solo from Tilbrook.

“In Quintessence,” which begins East Side Story, allowed Tilbrook, who turns 62 later this month, to showcase his pleasing voice, still pure and sweet as it was decades earlier.

Later, with Difford’s uniquely deep lead vocal, 1979’s “Cool For Cats” offered another opportunity for the band to show how tight they are, and Large ended the song with a flourish. [Difford turned 65 on Nov. 4.]

Watch them perform the song on August 17, 2019

The night ended with seven Squeeze favorites in a row, including the bittersweet pairing of “Goodbye Girl” and “Up the Junction,” “If I Didn’t Love You” with its clever lyric (If I didn’t love you, I’d hate you), and the evening’s first encore, “Take Me I’m Yours,” the group’s debut single in 1978. Like its lyrics, Squeeze continues to offer “chills and thrills.”

Watch them perform “Take Me I’m Yours” on August 19


Squeeze continue to tour. Tickets are available here.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

Greg Brodsky

10 Comments so far

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  1. johnny mac
    #1 johnny mac 21 August, 2019, 17:59

    Squeeze was awesome as usual but the sound at BergenPAC was unfortunately horrific.

    Reply this comment
    • MarkJC8
      MarkJC8 2 September, 2019, 18:06

      The sound at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee yesterday was awful as well. Very muddy and dense with very little treble and mids, and the keyboards way out front and much too loud. Totally obscured those wonderful vocals.

      Reply this comment
  2. Ennie
    #2 Ennie 21 August, 2019, 20:23

    Thanks for the review! I’m seeing them later in the tour. One small correction: it’s Difford who turns 65 in November. Tilbrook will be 62 next week. (They were very young when they started.)

    Reply this comment
  3. James Terakazis
    #3 James Terakazis 23 August, 2019, 15:13

    Squeeze. … SIMPLY AMAZING !!!!

    Reply this comment
  4. Mike in Nebraska
    #4 Mike in Nebraska 24 August, 2019, 23:58

    Great review. Thank you. Was a fan of their early work. Cant wait to see them in Omaha soon (Sept. 4th)!

    Reply this comment
  5. Mickey
    #5 Mickey 28 August, 2019, 15:38

    Hey Greg, this is great and thanks for posting. I’m planning to see their show in Chicago and can’t wait. I’m a consumer of set lists that can be found on setlist.fm and noticed that they are not playing “Another Nail Through My Heart”. Unfortunate.
    I’m curious to know how the crowd reacted during the show. Golf claps or up and dancing? What was your experience?

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky Author 28 August, 2019, 16:43

      Thanks, Mickey! I was surprised that they didn’t do “Another Nail…” as well. I’ve seen Squeeze perhaps 10x (and Glenn solo another 5 or 6). For whatever reason, this crowd was a bit too… polite. They applauded enthusiastically but barely rose.

      Reply this comment
  6. Da Mick
    #6 Da Mick 1 September, 2022, 03:51

    I’ve been a Squeeze fan from probably about their second LP. Always loved them followed them and bought their records until the eventually faded into an on-and-off status, which gave way to obscurity for awhile. I saw them once during their heyday in the early 80s on a bill with Elvis Costello — a pairing made in heaven, especially then. My wife and I were thrilled to see that they were on a bill last summer with Hall and Oates in an outdoor amphitheater. I’ve always enjoyed H&O, but this billing with Squeeze put the decision over the top and gave us a good excuse to plonk out money down. H&O’s band were solid, polished, and about perfect, although Daryl had very little left of his once wonderful voice, try as he, Oates and the band might to hide the fact. But Squeeze, who opened for them, hit the stage like TNT. I never equated their wonderfully poppy sound with power, either from their records or the previous performance I’d seen. But, MAN, were they powerful coming off that stage. And they had so much British kitschy personality — they were like a colorful circus act playing incredible music. All the songs that I’d known for so long took on a new vivid personality. Tilbrook’s voice was as good as ever, driven like never before by a piledriving rhythm section. On top of it all their songs that made use of synthesizers and electronica were given new life by their amazing keyboard player. I sat there for most of the show with my mouth hanging open and a grin fighting to take hold. I don’t think I was ever so thrilled to see a Band I had long loved reborn in such a glorious way. Kudos to H&O for not sandbagging the sound level of this great band. You don’t often see or hear that.

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