LIVE: Squeeze Acoustic @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 12/16/15

January 19th, 2016, 3:00 pm by Greg

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Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Squeeze – initially known here Stateside as Squeeze UK – were the most clever of the British new wave bands, pairing Chris Difford’s smart lyrics with Glenn Tilbrook’s hook-laden pop melodies. They never hit it as big in the U.S. as they did in the U.K., but their fans on this side of the Atlantic are a devoted bunch.

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Difford & Tilbrook – calling themselves Squeeze Acoustic – took the stage at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall – in bed. Literally. A phone call – recreating how they met – woke up Difford; they both pulled back the bedcovers; sat down at the breakfast table; and made their way to the microphones, singing the opening song, “Take Me, I’m Yours,” clad in their pajamas. Obviously, this was not going to be any sort of normal evening…

“Singles remind by of kisses, albums remind me of plans,” they sang during the encore of “If I Didn’t Love You.” And the show – a pair of 55-minute sets – was packed with plenty of Squeeze’s singles, but the presentation seemed a bit too over-planned. The stage set featured the two beds center stage bookended by backdrops on either side labeled “Chris” and “Glenn” in big bold letters, each filled with tables, chairs and lamps.

And interestingly enough, except for the Tilbrook’s guitar/sitar solo at the very end of “Cool for Cats” – just the second song of the night – the two each kept exclusively to their personalized side of the stage, never bridging the center-stage gap/border marked by the keyboard in front of the beds. Even at the end of the night, acknowledging the well-deserved standing ovation from the cheering crowd, they were at least 10 feet apart. So it seemed to be, at the least, a bit of an awkward situation on stage, which is probably why they called it the “At Odds Couple Tour.”

Fortunately, the obvious lack of onstage chemistry between the duo was overcome by the exquisitely crafted songs. The crowd was all about the nostalgia of Squeeze’s early-’80s heyday, and the twosome served up plenty of vintage gems – “Black Coffee in Bed” (disappointingly not sung in the beds that were directly behind them on stage), “Slap and Tickle,” the absolutely exquisite “Up the Junction” and a back-loaded run of “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” “Is That Love” and the Brit soul gem “Tempted,” followed by an encore trifecta of “Another Nail in My Heart,” “If I Didn’t Love You” (the best performance of the night) and “Goodbye Girl.”

The twosome also offered several selections from the new Squeeze album, From the Cradle to the Grave, released in November. Songs like “Nirvana,” “Beautiful Game,” “Happy Days” and the title track were solidly in the classic Squeeze mold – literate, sharp and ear-worm worthy.

Both sets were interupted by “the Man in the Golden Cape” segment, in which a gold-coated crew member roamed the theater to offer fans a chance to engage in a mid-set Q&A. You could call it an interactive audience experience. Or filler. I’m going with the latter.

Tilbrook – who’s played Greater Nippertown gigs at Revolution Hall and The Linda – was in charge, handling the vast majority of lead vocals and lead guitar. Meanwhile, Difford was mostly relegated to low harmony singing and acoustic guitar strumming. Of course, each had their obligatory solo turns in the spotlight. Difford hit the mark with “Wrecked,” a nostalgic look back at his younger days listening to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. Tilbrook’s best solo shot was his opening of the second set with “Still.”

SECOND OPINIONS:
Gary Hahn’s review at The Times Union
Bryan Lasky’s photographs at Facebook
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “The hits came again after the questions, such as ‘Pulling Mussels from a Shell,’ a great upbeat pop tune. Two songs later came the bouncy ‘Tempted (by the Fruit of Another),’ Tilbrook at the piano belting it out, the audience singing every word with him. Then came more with ‘If I Didn’t Love You (I’d Hate You)’ and ‘Good-bye Girl.’ Video played behind them during most of the show, usually whacky, or silly stuff that was entirely distracting from the music. During ‘Good-bye Girl’ you couldn’t help but watch the woman in the video packing her bags, cursing at and throwing her clothes at the camera. This got my attention but I felt like I missed the song. Enjoyable, family-friendly but not childish, it was a nice night of good music. They are masters of using the structure of a pop song to create excitement without any bells and whistles. There were so many familiar, catchy, positive tunes that you left with a number of them in your head. They are experiencing a resurgence here and in their native Great Britain. They deserve it.”

SQUEEZE ACOUSTIC SET LIST
Take Me, I’m Yours
Cool for Cats
Black Coffee in Bed
Nirvana
Electric Trains
Some Fantastic Place
Beautiful Game
(The Man in the Golden Cape segment) > Love’s Crashing Waves
Slap & Tickle
Fat as a Fiddle
Wrecked
Cowboys Are My Weakness
Up the Junction
INTERMISSION
Still
(I’ll Buy You an Ice Cream as Big as Your Head)
The Elephant Ride
Annie Get Your Gun
The Truth
Happy Days
From the Cradle to the Grave
(The Man in the Golden Cape segment)
Pulling Mussells (From the Shell)
Is That Love?
Tempted
ENCORES
Another Nail in My Heart
If I Didn’t Love You
Goodbye Girl

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