Squeeze + 9 Below Zero @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – 8 October 2017

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Saturday Oct 7, 2017 Under New Wave, Pop, Pop-rock, Post-punk

Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown and photography by Ken Harrison.

Way back in 1973 two chaps from South London formed a band that saw them christened the ‘The New Lennon and McCartney’. Three decades later they are still performing, now with a massive back catalogue of hits and they’re on an extensive run of UK dates starting at the delectable Symphony Hall in Birmingham. So welcome to the ‘new Paul and John’ –  Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook in full band mode as Squeeze.

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Support for tonight comes from 9 Below Zero. Formed in the 70s this English blues band have achieved cult-like status across Europe.  today’s line up features Dennis Greaves  (guitar/vocals), Mark Feltham (harmonica/vocals), Mickey Burkey (drums), Ben Willis (bass), Charlie Austen (vocals), Andrew Noble (keyboards), Chris Rand (Saxophone) and Paul Jordanous (trumpet). They have a new outing ’13 Shades of Blue’ and are out and about the UK in support of it. They reckon Broad Street (the main party street) is nuts they nearly got run over by women!” They give a good party feel good set warming up the crowd nicely for the main act of the night. 

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And so to Squeeze. With over three decades behind them, their lyrical take on modern day Britain and life is still as relevant as ever – and still reminds us all why they have left such an indelible impression on the UK’s music scene.  Difford & Tilbrook perform in their own right – us lucky Gig Junkies reviewed them back in this guise when they performed at Birmingham’s Town Hall late in 2014.

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Squeeze is very much Difford and Tilbrook; with a rota of musicians in support to deliver the full Squeeze experience. So with the screen showing us Google searches to each band member, they take to the stage and we’re off with starter ‘Take Me I’m Yours.’ We’re singing along already. ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ follows and is is their want, a screen behind compliments the band, for this one showing close up of money – fivers, tenners and dollars. Then ‘Hourglass’ and we chant the chorus “Take it to the bridge, throw it overboard, See if it can swim, back up to the shore, No ones in the house, all the lights are on, And the blinds are down…”

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Their lyrics are a take on life, what they see – a insanely talented lyrical pair –  you entirely understand why they have this acclaimed acknowledgement to the level of The Beatles pair. ‘A & E’ a story to tell; ‘Rough Ride’ is a singers journey, choirs and kids and opera singers, compliment the Squeeze experience in a virtual manner, and the screen shows Monopoly and houses and they lyric Austerity- is that all you have to give to me?.

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The hit ‘Pulling Muscles (from the Shell)’ gets us singing once more – a old fashioned World map on screen with toy soldiers and money, war, protectionism, nationalism…. Sing. “But behind the chalet,
My holiday’s complete,And I feel like William Tell,Maid Marian on her tiptoed feet, Pulling mussels from a shell, Pulling mussels from a shell…”

And the set rolls on – the known,  the lesser known; ‘Open’ about Difford’s wedding. ‘Tempted’- we’re off singing again. And here we go again – opening lines:  “I never thought it would happen, With me and the girl from Clapham, Out on the windy common, That night I ain’t forgotten….” it’s ‘Up the Junction.’

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And to conclude we get ‘Departure’, that cheeky cockney accent in “Coooooollllll for Caaaats’  and completed with an extended version and a chance to introduce the eight band members on stage with ‘Black Coffee in Bed’. As Tilbrook introduces Difford we get a song: He writes the words and he dances around and his name is…. Chris! I want you to tell me his name….Chris! Chris Difford! Chris Difford! Chris Difford!” Difford is embarrassed. He tells us he’ll be standing erect all night….

Squeeze gave us a selection of the old and the new, something that had borrowed inspiration and something slightly blue tonight.  Out and about across the UK on this extensive tour – for Squeeze fans – you might want to catch this one while you can….

For more images from tonight’s gig visit our Flickr page.


Setlist:
Take Me I’m Yours
Annie Get Your Gun
Hourglass
A&E
Rough Ride
Final Score
Pulling Muscles (from the Shell)
Innocence
Cradle to the Grave
Nirvana
Is That Love
Every Story
Albatross
The Elephant Ride
Up The Junction
Open
Tempted
Wicked and Cruel
Goodbye Girl
Another Nail in My Heart
Labelled With Love
Slap and Tickle

Encore:
Departure
Cool for Cats
Black Coffee in Bed

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