Squeeze, Magnificent and Tighter Than Ever: 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 Tuesday night’s (August 20) 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.

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.

Watch them perform the song on August 17

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

Magnificent.

The U.S. leg of “The Songbook Tour” continues through September 22. It resumes in the U.K. in October-November, with 2020 dates already scheduled for Australia and New Zealand. Tickets are available here.

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Greg Brodsky

Best Classic Bands Founder/CEO Greg Brodsky earned his first professional bylines as a reporter for the music trade weekly Record World. He still has all his vinyl albums and enjoys going to flea markets and garage sales to grow his collection.
Greg Brodsky
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8 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

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