Music Review: Squeeze THE DIFFORD AND TILBROOK SONGBOOK 2019 – The Lowry, Salford

Squeeze. Photo Credit: Danny Clifford

Squeeze. Photo Credit: Danny Clifford

Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook may have been writing together for 45 years but the pair sound as sharp as ever on the Squeeze tour

4 out of 5 stars

As Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook belt out their 1979 hit UP THE JUNCTION, it’s hard to believe that the pair have been writing together for 45 years. The timeless tale of a young love wrecked by pregnancy, gambling and booze still sounds as fresh – and as catchy – as ever before, demonstrating why Squeeze left such an indelible impression on the British music scene, particularly during the 70s and 80s.

Best known for their hits COOL FOR CATS, UP THE JUNCTION, SLAP AND TICKLE and TEMPTED, British rock band Squeeze first rose to prominence in the UK during the new wave period. Founded by teenage friends Difford and Tilbrook, the band quickly hit the charts, finding success both in the UK and the US during the 70, 80s and 90s. More recently, the band has released three critically acclaimed albums in the past three years, headlining numerous festivals in the UK and taking to the road for a UK/US tour.

Squeeze’s latest tour – titled THE DIFFORD AND TILBROOK SONGBOOK 2019 – sees the South-London legends play hits from their extensive back catalogue as well as some rare, lesser-known gems from their albums and solo careers. Opening with FOOTPRINTS, the band barely pause for breath as they make their way through the 105-minute set, belting out crowd-pleasers PULLING MUSSELS (FROM THE SHELL) and UP THE JUNCTION early on, getting the audience up on their feet.

Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. Photo Credit: Danny Clifford

Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. Photo Credit: Danny Clifford

Over the past four decades, the band has seen a number of changes to its line-up – Jools Holland and Paul Carrack members standing out as two notable members – yet still sound as tight as ever. Stephen Large on keys and drummer Simon Hanson particularly stand out, delivering the band’s pop-mod sound with energy and enthusiasm, while percussionist Steve Smith and bassist Yolanda Charles impress with their stage presence and backing vocals.

But the real highlight of the evening is when Difford and Tilbrook are left alone with their guitars, stripping back classics like SLAP AND TICKLE, LABELLED WITH LOVE and TEMPTED. Often compared to Lennon and McCartney for their evergreen pop craftsmanship, the pair have had their fair share of fallouts and estrangements over the decades but their latest tour is testament to their enduring friendship – and incredible talent – their witty kitchen-sink lyricism, unique harmonies and sharp storytelling truly shining through on the stripped-back numbers.

Isn’t long however before the band is back in full force, belting out a tirade of hits like COOL FOR CATS, ANOTHER NAIL IN MY HEART, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN and GOODBYE GIRL before closing with an encore of TAKE ME I’M YOURS and an extended version of BLACK COFFEE IN BED, each band member given their chance to shine with a solo spot.

Difford and Tilbrook have survived everything over the years – from the ever-changing musical landscape to their own internal reshuffles and acrimonious breakups – yet if this tour is anything to go by, the pair are still going strong and still loving every moment.

Squeeze played at The Lowry, Salford on 3 November and tour nationally until 30 December 2019.