Squeeze | Sage Gateshead | Newcastle | 21 Oct 2015
Squeeze still have what it takes...
One of the television highlights of 2015 has been "Cradle To Grave", a light-hearted slab of early 70's nostalgia that has seen Danny Baker's adolescent adventures brought to the screen. Responsible for much of the show's jaunty soundtrack is one of the world's finest songwriting partnerships, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, who, with "Cradle To The Grave" have released the first album of new material under the Squeeze banner since 1998's "Domino".
Wednesday evening found the band at Sage Gateshead towards the tail end of a successful UK tour proving that like a fine wine, they just get better with age. While Difford and Tilbrook remain Squeeze's core, both drummer Simon Hanson and keyboardist Stephen Large are familiar faces to Squeeze fans and they have been joined by Lucy Shaw on bass and, for much of the set, Melvin Duffy on pedal steel guitar.
Opening with a high tempo trio of "Hourglass", "Is That Love" and "Another Nail In My Heart" the band were quickly into their stride, and while the usual parade of tried and trusted pop perfection was offered - "Labelled With Love", "Goodbye Girl", "Black Coffee in Bed", "Some Fantastic Place", "Tempted", "Pulling Mussels" - Squeeze were justifiably pleased to bring us plenty of new songs from "Cradle To The Grave".
Introducing, "Happy Days", Tilbrook commented how nice it was to hear a new song of theirs being played on the radio after all these years and, truth be told, both "Happy Days" and the title track are classic Squeeze songs that could hold their own on any Squeeze album regardless of era. But it was also nice to hear several other tracks from the new album such as "Everything", "Open", "Only 15" and "Nirvana" too and cover versions of Jeannie C. Reilly's "Harper Valley PTA" and Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" were a pleasant surprise. Squeeze are also happy to trawl their catalogue and pull out some "deep" cuts such as "The Elephant Ride" from 1982's "Sweets From A Stranger" album, performed here solo by Tilbrook on the wurlitzer organ and "The Truth" from 1991's "Play".
Mid-set, Difford invited the audience to leave their seats and move around a little to "Slap and TIckle"' and from that point everyone remained on their feet until the final numbers - singalong versions of "Cool For Cats" and "Take Me I'm Yours" the latter of which, to the crowd's delight saw the band members swap their instruments for acoustics and wander off the side of the stage, along the front row and out through the audience to the lobby where they took some seats and held a meet and greet and signing session.
Opening for Squeeze was the punk-poet himself, Dr John Cooper Clarke. Almost certainly one of the few people whose silhouette looks exactly as it did back in 1977, JCC proved a real crowd pleaser cracking jokes and performing a number of pieces including "I Wanna Be Yours", "Beasley Street" and "Evidently Chickentown" all of which can be found on his new compilation "Anthologia" as well as newer material such as "Trouble at Mall".
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