Cambridge Corn Exchange
27 October 2017
I feel as though I should be dictating this review to my clerk, who is recording this for posterity on the finest vellum with the best quality goose feather quill, for I am now, officially, a VIP and I have the wristband to prove it. So special thanks must go to the Squeeze management for providing me with seating in the VIP area and backstage access where, post gig, I met up with messrs Difford and Tillbrook to discuss the progress of Brexit over a glass of dry sherry and a packet of pork scratchings. Disclaimer: Some of the above paragraph may be complete fantasy.
But to the matter in hand, on both occasions I have seen Squeeze the support acts have been of the highest quality and deserving of being the headliners in their own right and, this time, it is Nine Below Zero, who I first saw on the pub circuit years before the moon was fully formed. Then I had the great pleasure of working with them at The Quay Theatre in Sudbury, and what splendid chaps they were. To my surprise the tearaway quartet I was expecting have turned into a more rounded and less urgent eight piece which, for me, took away a great deal of the intensity and excitement that drew me to them in the first place.
May be as we get older our musical horizons expand or we just can’t run around like twenty year olds anymore. Whichever it is I remain to be convinced by The Nine Below Zero Big Band, of course the older stuff like “Don’t Point your Finger” and the hit “11 + 11” still had the vigour of yore, but the addition of keyboards and a brass section tend to smooth away the clipped punky edges that made them the equal of bands like Dr. Feelgood. Certainly, on tonight’s evidence, there were many wanderings into the jazzier and more soulful end of the blues spectrum, along with sax solos straight from the pages of the E Street guide to rock’n’roll. A work in progress me thinks, hopefully I can catch them again on their 2018 Spring tour.
All of that is but a preamble to the main event – Once again the mighty Squeeze are on tour with a new album, “The Knowledge” to promote and, to this end, they kicked off with a splendid “Please be Upstanding” from said album. First hit of the night, “Pulling Mussels from a Shell“, seemed oddly off the mark, but they were soon back on track with a fab rendering of “Hourglass” complete with a borrowed brass section, whilst “Annie Get Your Gun” continued the return to form.
Glenn Tillbrook got to show his prowess on the guitar with another new song “Innocence in Paradise” and then got the ukulele out for “Cradle to the Grave“, whilst I love the song I still think of that instrument as nothing but a toy. “Cool for Cats” was greeted with the usual euphoric community singing, and then it was back into the new album for “Departure Lounge” and “Albatross” steered, in the main, by the fine bongo playing of percussionist Steve Smith.
Excellent as it had been, to this point, that was merely the starter as somehow they found an extra gear to propel them through a string of crowd pleasers until the end – “Tempted“, “Goodbye Girl“, “Up the Junction“, “Labelled with Love”, made to sound even countrier by the addition of Mark Feltham’s fabulous harmonica, and “Slap and Tickle“. Except, of course, that wasn’t the end, these days encores are the norm rather than the exception, but, tonight, it was richly deserved and consisted of “Is That Love” and “Black Coffee in Bed“, and then time for the drive home content with the evening’s entertainment and hoping that the chance to see them comes around again. By which time I promise to have bought a thesaurus and learnt a whole pile of new superlatives with which to do justice to the mighty Squeeze.