“Why are you smiling?” I had to do a mental check of my face and I realized I was wearing an ear-to-ear grin – a smile that had been on my face from the moment Glenn Tilbrook took the stage earlier that evening and was still there hours later when I was just a few blocks from home.
For those who don’t know, Tilbrook is the lead singer and guitarist for Squeeze and wrote most of the music while guitarist Chris Difford wrote most of the lyrics for the band. Squeeze breaks up and gets back together periodically – Tilbrook got us all excited with the news that the band played recently with an orchestra at Royal Albert Hall and they’re trying to bring that show to the US. If you’re a Squeeze fan there were no disappointments – Tilbrook played almost the entire Singles lp (both UK and US versions) in addition to deep cuts, songs from his solo albums and Difford/Tilbrook years, and some very good covers. And if you don’t know Squeeze then you need to rectify that right now – their songs are smart and funny and fun and have a great beat that you can dance to. Any of their albums would be one of my desert island discs – you can listen to their songs over and over and never get tired of them.
One of the surprises for me was how great a guitarist Tilbrook is. I’d seen Difford and Tilbrook years ago when they were touring as a duo and I don’t remember the guitar work. And you don’t think of Squeeze as a guitar band – it’s the lyrics, vocals, and the rhythm section that make the band so great. Tilbrook played the six- and the twelve-string acoustic guitars as if this was his last chance to prove himself.
Tilbrook came on stage in a very shiny suit and told us how happy he was to be in his clothes and have his guitars since his luggage had been lost for three days. Then he treated us to a special version of “Reunited” that dissed the airline. Next he played a song from the Difford/Tilbrook catalog written in 1975 – “Monkey.” While he played and sang I was getting chills. I was 22 years old again. And Tilbrook gave us a tour of his own past with songs like “Harper Valley PT,” “I Hear You Knocking,” and “This is Where You Ain’t,” which was written when his ex moved his kids to Australia. Tilbrook was happy to report that his kids were now living with him.
For “Best of Times” he had us rehearse and then we sang the title line with him. Not that we weren’t already singing along. And filling in the background vocals for “Black Coffee in Bed.” Or clapping out the rhythm for other songs.
When Tilbrook encored with “Another Nail in My Heart” we were wondering how he was going to top that. “Pulling Mussels From a Shell” of course.
- Reunited (reworked cover)
- No Place Like Home
- This is Where You Ain’t
- [I can’t figure out from my notes what song he played here]
- Take Me I’m Yours
- Tongue Like a Knife
- Harper Valley PTA (Tom T. Hall/Jeannie C. Riley cover)
- Messed Around
- If I Didn’t Love You
- Best of Times
- Wild World (Cat Stevens cover)
- Goodbye Girl
- The Truth
- Annie Get Your Gun
- What the Butler Saw
- I Hear You Knocking (popular R&B cover)
- Up the Junction
- Walk Away
- Tough Love
- Black Coffee in Bed
- Is That Love?
- Slap & Tickle
- Can’t Buy Me Love (Beatles cover)
- Vanity Fair
- Another Nail in My Heart
- Pulling Mussels From a Shell
(I thought he sang “Labelled with Love” but I can’t find it in my notes.)
By Carene Lydia Lopez