SQUEEZE – The Difford & Tillbrook Songbook Tour 2019

Many years ago, a 17 year old, spotty youth was thrilled to see Squeeze play at Nottingham Royal Theatre.  In those days with Jools Holland and Gilson Lavis still in the band, and having scored two successive big hit singles, it was a gig not to be missed. 

“Two of the greatest songsmiths showcasing some of their glorious catalogue of deeply touching, often funny, mini kitchen sink dramas translated into songs”

It was the only time I have ever seen a band play three encores, such was the ecstatic reception of the assembled students and sixth formers that night.  Almost exactly 40 years later (!) I found myself in the audience at The New Theatre Oxford this weekend, possibly with those same people, our hair greying or gone, but incredibly Squeeze is still up there, bringing joy to us all.  

Actually it was really the Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook show, albeit supported by a great band.  

Two of the greatest songsmiths showcasing some of their glorious catalogue of deeply touching, often funny, mini kitchen sink dramas translated into songs. 

“Whilst the joy of youth may have long faded, thankfully Squeeze have been with us for the ride, and still making sure the past has been bottled and labelled with love”

Tillbrook’s singing and guitar playing is just as strong after all these years.  The little movies playing behind them added even more colour to the witty words of Difford, many deeply reminiscent of a rubbish time in Deptford in the early 1970s.  

Their soundtrack to the Peter Kay comedy series Cradle to the Grave, from which they played the title track, perfectly captured that time and place.  

Difford’s lyrics to Mumbo Jumbo were playfully projected behind the band, in case you needed to be reminded.

My fellow Squeeze fanatics were able to sing along word for word with little prompting from Tillbrook on Tempted, from their best album, the Elvis Costello produced East Side Story from 1981.  

I wondered how many in the audience had in those 40 intervening years indeed been “tempted by the fruit of another” as we enjoyed hit after hit, from “take me I’m yours” to “a little slap and tickle” before finishing with “black coffee in bed”.  

We sang along to Up the Junction and finally got up onto our feet to dance to Cool for Cats.  

I wanted to hear the Elephant Ride from the album Sweets from a Stranger.  It reminds me of the last week spent at University and its lyric that “today is none of our concern” felt at the time like the last time it would be.   

But there are so many other lovely Difford and TIllbrook songs that could have been in this set, too many to choose from.  

Whilst the joy of youth may have long faded, thankfully Squeeze have been with us for the ride, and still making sure the past has been bottled and labelled with love.  

NICK GARNER

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