Squeeze | Hampton Court Palace | London | 19 Jun 2012

Pop Perfection...

Deptford's finest, Squeeze, may have their fortieth anniversary looming on the horizon but they continue to provide one of the most satisfying night's entertainment you could hope for. Glenn Tilbrook and writing partner Chris Difford, seem to have struck the perfect modus operandi - both regularly undertaking solo tours of intimate venues but not averse to taking the Squeeze franchise out of hibernation for periodic jaunts around the larger halls.

This year sees Squeeze about to commence a summer tour of the United States alongside those perennial funsters the B52's in what sounds like being an excellent evening's entertainment, and this winter they'll be visiting a concert hall near you with Paul Heaton as support on an extensive UK 'Pop Up Shop' tour.

As a prelude to all this activity, the band decamped to West London on Tuesday evening to perform at the Hampton Court Palace Festival to an enthusiastic audience anxious to enjoy their picnics in the Palace grounds, put aside their worries about how England were faring against Ukraine in the big qualifier, and instead sing along to a back catalogue of hits that remains one of the finest to have evolved from the halycon days of "new wave".

Squeeze have operated a revolving line-up for several decades and this current version sees Difford and Tilbrook (who has now ditched last winter's misjudged Grizzly Adams look for an unruly goatee the like of which was last seen sported by Geoffrey Bayldon in "Catweazle" circa 1971) reunited with former bassist John Bentley, and Tilbrook's Fluffers' band mates Simon Hanson and Stephen Large on drums and keyboards respectively.

Taking to the stage just as the half-time whistle blew in Donetsk, the band opened with one of their earliest songs, 'Take Me I'm Yours' before deftly following up with 'If I Didn't Love You' from 1980's 'Argybargy' album, and 'In Quintessence' from 1981's 'East Side Story'.

It took seven songs before the opening lines of 'Is That Love' encouraged the first dancers to leave their seats down the front and this was all the encouragement that was needed to get people on their feet and singing along for the remainder of the evening.

After a mid-section of 'Points Of View', 'Labelled With Love', 'Melody Motel', 'Heaven' and 'Bang Bang', came a stunning string of ten, solid gold classic tunes from the band's extensive back catalogue. Starting with 'Cool For Cats', the band continued with 'Up The Junction', 'Another Nail In My Heart', 'Goodbye Girl', 'Annie Get Your Gun', 'Hourglass', 'Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)', 'Slap and Tickle', 'Tempted', and, finally the set closing 'Black Coffee In Bed'.

It was an exhilarating forty minutes of music that would have been worth the ticket price alone, but it did demonstrate how difficult it must be to match the quality and success of such tunes when writing new material. But the proven Squeeze formula of providing a jukebox of hits on stage, and mixing it up with a strong back catalogue of popular fan favourites is continuing to serve them well.

Setlist: Take Me I'm Yours, If I DIdn't Love You, In Quintessence, Revue, Model, Who's That, Is That Love, Points Of View, Labelled With Love, Melody Motel, Heaven, Bang Bang, Cool For Cats, Up The Junction, Another Nail In My Heart, Goodbye Girl, Annie Get Your Gun, Hourglass, Pulling Mussels (From A Shell), Slap And Tickle, Tempted, Black Coffee In Bed.

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Squeeze performing at Hampton Court Palace in London on 19 June 2012