A quick thought experiment proves that the most creative bands had two volatile leaders. A pause here as you run it through your mind.
It is generally true, right? A few exceptions certainly exist, but in a band context, always look for the volatile pair. Enter Squeeze. Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook have been the mostly superb occasionally volatile duo behind one of the most loved British bands over the last four decades. By the time they reached their commercial apogee in the 1980s the pair was compared to another creative duo, as whispers of Lennon and McCartney were often slipped into discussions about Squeeze’s songwriting.
In fact, by 2008 the discussion went from a whisper to not quite a scream, but recognition via the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution To British Music.
On the heels of their first album of new Squeeze material this millennium, Difford and Tillbrook are presenting an acoustic show billed as the ‘At Odds Couple Tour.’
The third gig of the tour rolled into San Diego for a delightful evening at the House of Blues. The duo from Deptford bulked up their set list with a full dollop of their hits: ‘Cool For Cats’, ‘Another Nail In My Heart,’ ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),’ ‘Tempted,’ ‘Annie Get Your Gun,’ ‘Black Coffee In Bed’ and ‘Is That Love.’ Balancing out the set were a few solo tracks and a decent helping from the new Squeeze album (their 14th), including the title track ‘Cradle To The Grave.’ Also well assayed from the new release were ‘Nirvana, ‘Beautiful Game’ and ‘Happy Days.’
In much the same way that Brian Wilson has a thread of melancholy in many of his best compositions, the often dark lyrics by Difford are offset by Tillbrook’s buoyant melody. Nowhere is that more evident than ‘Up The Junction.’
The clever set was a bachelor pad motif, replete with TV trays, a cheap typewriter and groovy wallpaper.
The crowd was adoring, filling in chorus hooks and proffering questions for the band when the man in the golden cape swooped through the seated audience with a microphone. The pair had a suitably conflicting response when I asked if they might be appearing on a former pianist bandmate’s TV show…so only time will tell if we will see Squeeze on Jools Holland’s broadcast.
(photos by Brad Auerbach)