Written by Jason Reed
September 13, 2019
Last night at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Squeeze (with original members Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford) performed a fresh, heartfelt and impassioned set of songs spanning the band’s 45 year history as part of their current North American “Songbook 2019” tour. And what a dense, satisfying songbook it ultimately is.
Opening up the night was legendary LA punk band X, with original members John Doe, Exene Cervenka, D.J. Bonebrake and (the perpetually smiling) Billy Zoom still banging away like it was 1977 when these trailblazers first set the Southern California music landscape on fire. There is a reason that Henry Rollins was quoted as saying that X is one of the most impressive bands he’s ever seen live. Having seen them perform recently in Morro Bay, CA as well as countless times in the past, I have to say that their opening set felt like a headlining performance with the band giving the audience 110% and pulling no punches. Their satiating set of over 15 songs created a particularly energetic and lively tone for the rest of the evening.
Squeeze then took the stage. Song after song, the band cranked out emotive tunes imbued with the whimsy, introspection and confessional musings that founding members Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford are renowned for, with just enough politeness and humility to make these charming British lads shine all night long. Adding layers of depth and filling out the band’s sound were the fabulous Yolanda Charles (bass), Steve Smith (percussion), Simon Hanson (drums), Melvin Duffy (slide guitar, etc.) and Stephen Large (keys).
Show highlights included Glenn performing ukulele on “Rock the Cradle,” the danceable, synthy rendering of “Heaven,” the snappy “In Quintessence,” anthemic “Annie Get Your Gun,” and the densely churning “Take Me I’m Yours.” An uptempo rendition of the “Black Coffee in Bed” aptly closed out the night with its introspective, sobering reflections on life, love and loss.
45 years since first forming the band in Deptford, London, the oft-hailed “Lennon and McCartney” of their generation show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. And like those lads from Liverpool, Difford and Tilbrook similarly display a symbiotic pairing of “yin and yang,” creating a balanced output of work from their songbook that seems to transcend time and space and will be immortalized in the hearts of music lovers for generations to come. All you need is love….and Squeeze!
I had a chance to meet the gracious and personable Glenn and Chris after the show who autographed my copy of Argybargy, one of my favorite all time “desert island records”, an amazing album that was my first official introduction to their work and will always have a very special place in my heart. Thanks to the entire band for a wonderful, memorable evening.
Be sure to check out squeezeofficial.com for more information about their current tour and future projects.