Summer. Coney Island. Fireworks. Nathan’s. And the best (and a little of the worst) of oldies music.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has been running the Seaside Summer Concert Series for 34 years. As Marty reminded us several times this was the first Friday concert in all those years. This was because it was the only night they could get Squeeze (also the last night of their US tour).
It was a rainy day and promised to be a rainy evening so the crowd was small at the start. It was also the coldest day of the summer. I was wearing a rain poncho more to ward off the wind than the slight drizzle. As soon as you get off the subway you can smell the sea and see Nathan’s. The stage is next to the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium and there was a short line next to a very old building. I love buildings like this (there’s an old Republican Hall near my house) and always love to fantasize about turning them into entertainment centers – restaurant, bar, and music club.
The concerts are free but you can rent a folding chair for $5, which is definitely worth it. The people who bring their own chairs have to sit way in the back so the chair rental is definitely the way to go. From the seats you can see the Parachute Jump.
While waiting for rtb, I got to listen to Marty talk up Brooklyn and the concerts. And he said hello to everyone. Everyone. And asked about their spouses and children. Marty knows everyone. And it’s a Brooklyn crowd so they yell back. A lot.
When Detroit band The Romantics first came out I was a little afraid – they look like the oldies act who is doing it wrong. Old faces with the 80s haircuts. Old bodies squeezed into tight pants.
The Romantics did the bigger of their two hits (“Talking In Your Sleep”) in the middle of their set. They saved “What I Like About You” for their last song. A lot of their songs (even the hits) sound like other songs but the crowd didn’t seem to be bothered by that. Wally Palmar (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Mike Skill (lead guitar), Rich Cole (bass), and Brad Elvis (drums, percussion) do put on a good show. Palmar was losing his voice but everyone made up for it with great musicianship and a lot of energy.
Marty came out between acts to tell us about the Brooklyn concerts and the great Brooklyn restaurants (most of the ones he named are in Sheepshead Bay and they are great restaurants – it’s a shame tourists to get to taste that part of NYC or that a lot of New Yorkers don’t get out there). He also said hello again to each person he recognized.
Squeeze is doing it right. They’ve aged and they don’t try to pretend they’re youngsters anymore. It helps that their entire set list is one hit (at least hits to the fans) after another.
First we saw a short film and then the band hits the stage running with Glenn Tilbrook (lead vocals/guitar) announcing each song quickly. “Take Me I’m Yours” “If I Didn’t Love You” “In Quintessence” “Is That Love?”
Then music stands were brought out for Chris Difford (guitar/vocals) and Tilbrook and they performed two new songs – “Tommy” and “Top of the Fob”
The music stands were taken away and we were back to dancing and singing along – “Another Nail in My Heart” “Melody Motel” “Cool for Cats” (with Difford on lead vocals) “Up the Junction”
During “Up the Junction” there was a video cartoon and the fireworks started – there are fireworks every Friday at Coney Island. Tilbrook got this amused and confused expression on this face. Then he really got into it.
I should mention that Tilbrook still has the weird facial hair – a long beard with a band around it. I couldn’t get any good shots of the band with my phone.
There was another (what I think was a) new song (“I put the horse before the plow”) and then “Goodbye Girl” “Bang Bang” “Annie Get Your Gun” “Hourglass” “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)”
This incarnation of Squeeze has Stephen Large on keyboards. Simon Hanson on drums and John Bentley on bass make up one of the best (if not the best) rhythm sections of any rock band – the Squeeze drum/bass combination practically makes me scream with joy.
“Tempted” was the last song of the set. For the encore they set up an old keyboard synthesizer for Tilbrook, who explained that they didn’t know about sequencing back in the day so the keys were all organic on “Slap and Tickle.” They finished with “Black Coffee in Bed” with the audience still singing strong providing all the back up vocals.
Tilbrook shyly introduced the band – Difford is the brilliant lyricist and Tilbrook writes all the music. They are two of the best songwriters in pop/rock history.
By Carene Lydia Lopez