Squeeze may not be quite the household name that some bands are (at least here in North America), but even the uninitiated at their show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on Saturday night likely instantly recognized more than a few of the songs. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, the co-leaders and songwriters of the band, have often been compared to Lennon and McCartney, and for good reason. Over the course of their 45-year career, they’ve produced numerous classics, their sophisticated new wave and power pop sound both distinctive and timeless. It’s these songs that the band has been celebrating on their current “Squeeze Songbook” tour.
For nearly two hours, Difford and Tilbrook led the audience through a tour of their catalog, ranging from some of their biggest hits – “Hourglass,” “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” “Cool For Cats,” and the ubiquitous “Tempted” – to some deeper cuts like “King George Street,” “Third Rail,” and “In Quintessence.” But in the hands of their more than capable band, even those lesser known songs sounded like hit singles. While the band focused mostly on the classics and didn’t dwell on their 21st century releases, they did play one track (the title song) from 2015’s Cradle to the Grave, and two from their most recent, 2018’s The Knowledge (“Innocence in Paradise” and “Please Be Upstanding”). It’s a tribute to Difford and Tillbrook’s skill as songwriters that even these late-period songs sounded as strong as, and fit in well with, all of the much older tracks. For completists, there was even a song from the Difford & Tilbrook album that the pair released in 1984 after the band’s (first) break-up, “Love’s Crashing Waves.”
Selling out the Kennedy Center concert hall, a historic venue that holds nearly 2,500 people, it’s clear that Squeeze is experiencing a renaissance. While simple nostalgia certainly plays a role in that, it’s also immediately apparent that Difford and Tilbrook have managed to reclaim the magic that made the band great in the first place – a feat that many reunited bands from the era never truly accomplish.
Squeeze finish up this round of east coast dates over the course of the next week, and then head westward in September. To see one of the best bands of the 80s still going strong today, be sure to catch them when they come to your town.
Footprints Big Beng Hourglass Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) King George Street Annie Get Your Gun Third Rail Innocence in Paradise Someone Else’s Heart In Quintessence Please Be Upstanding Cool For Cats
Cradle to the Grave Slap and Tickle Love’s Crashing Waves Tempted Goodbye Girl Up the Junction If I Didn’t Love You
Take Me I’m Yours Is That Love Black Coffee in Bed