Squeeze - Colston Hall, Bristol
Partly through disappearing for a while and reforming with various line-ups, and partly through their former keyboard player being their most famous face, Squeeze are one of the lesser recognised gems of British music from the 70s and 80s. Now over forty years since their formation main men Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook are back in a way that was unimaginable even twelve months ago. And they know it; Tilbrook mentions their good fortune more than once.
That the band give credit for their resurgence to the Danny Baker written, Peter Kaye starring BBC comedy ‘Cradle To The Grave’ is underplaying the sheer melodic energy of their two recent calling cards, the Radio 2 playlisted ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Cradle To The Grave’ itself. It’s a slightly jarring sight then to see the audience in Bristol’s Colston Hall have bums firmly rooted to seats, with barely a nod of the head in recognition of the songs being played in front of them.
To be honest, there’s a problem with pacing throughout the setlist; it’s bottom heavy with the hits. Though opening with a cracking blues guitar riff on 1987’s top twenty hit ‘Hourglass’ promises much, the momentum is short lived as ‘Is That Love?’ and ‘Another Nail In My Heart’ give way to a long section of new and not so well know tracks. Though the five piece are on form throughout, the banter is kept to a minimum and it’s workmanlike rather than searing.
Halfway through ‘Labelled With Love’ and a raucously reinvented ‘Slap And Tickle’ threaten to reinvigorate the evening but it’s not until the aforementioned ‘Cradle To The Grave’ turns up that hands start to clap and heads start to nod. Then comes the run of undeniable brilliance that sends Colston Hall crazy: a fantastic ‘Tempted’; ‘Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)’; the punk reminder ‘Up The Junction’; ‘Happy Days’; and the jewel in the crown, the undeniable ‘Cool For Cats’. So it ends perfectly and starts well, the perfectly written vignettes of British life take you back in time for a couple of hours. Now if only Tilbrook and Difford could get the setlist as perfect.