Mike Torpey enjoys a night with the Golden Oldies.
IT gives me great pleasure to sit on bath taps. . . . and to introduce Squeeeeeeeeze.
There were countless fifty-somethings at the Arena who thought Glenn Tilbrook‘s voice had cracked up. Or had Chris Difford just ballooned in height and weight?
In truth it was Peter Kay up to his old tricks emerging alone onto a darkened stage for a spot of karaoke, a bash on the drums and a reminder to the crowd that ‘last time I were ‘ere seven years ago this was an effing tent.’
Then in the music hall style that suits their persona so well, Squeeze appeared pedalling old sit up and beg bikes.
Difford once remarked that he and Tillbrook always apply the John West effect to songwriting – it’s the ones they reject that make theirs the best.
And there was plenty for a packed auditorium to sing along to. From the opening chords of their 1978 top twenty single Take Me I’m Yours, the band rattled off hit after hit.
Peter Kay introduces Squeeze.
Black Coffee In Bed was followed by Up The Junction, Annie Get Your Gun, Tempted and Another Nail In My Heart as the band found a momentum, Tilbrook dominating the stage with the power of his crackling guitar and high octave vocals.
Is That Love and Labelled With Love were reminders of just what
slick lyricists the two frontmen once were and that they can still reproduce the old energy and drive was underlined by Cool For Cats – with a rare outing on vocals for Difford – complete with psychedelic mid-song frenzy, and the encores Goodbye Girl and Pulling Mussels (From The Shell).
If you combine the ages of the two original Squeeze members with the remaining pair from The Pretenders – Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers – it comes to almost 220 years.
Sounds a recipe for zimmer rock, but as the likes of Neil Young, Stephen Stills (now there’s a mess), The Boss and the Strolling Bones have shown, so long as your voice hasn’t cracked up and your fingers aren’t withered by arthritis the stage can be a rewarding place to hang out.
Hynde has no problems on that score.
She still looks the original rock chick in skin tight denims with gunslinger guitar pose, and if anything her voice has improved over the years.
The Pretenders put on a better show than when they were last at the Arena two years ago, pedal steel guitar player Eric Heywood adding an extra dimension to the sound.
It’s easy to write bands like this off as merely purveyors of greatest hits packages with zero relevance to the modern day.
Hynde’s not having that. She resisted going on tour again until there was new material to play, and the first few songs last night were from new album Break Up The Concrete – her take on caring for the environment by destroying industry’s ills.
Boots Of Chinese Plastic (as opposed to Dylan‘s Spanish Leather), the storming Rosalee and more poppy Love’s A Mystery testament to her skills as both songwriter and performer.
Chrissie may not look 57 but she’s well aware of her own mortality and that of her original band. Dedicating debut album song Kid to guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bass player Pete Farndon, both of whom suffered drug-related deaths, she pointed to the skies and yelled: ‘Get the kettle on fellas, we’re not far behind you.’
Then it was a tour de force with the likes of Back On The Chain Gang, Talk Of The Town, Message Of Love, I Go To Sleep – for ex-lover Ray Davies – the magnificent Night In My Veins, the definitive version of I’ll Stand By You, the cheesy Brass In Pocket and closer Stop Your Sobbing – complete with harmonica freak-out from Hynde.
Squeeze: Cool For Cats
The Pretenders: Kid