“I’d forgotten how much I like Squeeze” proclaims the merchandise occupying a corner of the foyer. Perhaps a handful in the audience needed a helpful nudge of an opening riff to remind them just how many hits Squeeze have amassed, but the rest of the audience had never forgotten. The Join the Dots tour bridges forty years of Squeeze and, despite some hefty chunks of absence throughout that period, the picture those dots form hasn’t faded. Their latest album The Knowledge was released just a fortnight ago and so no criticism can be made of an audience not quite word perfect on the new material. By contrast, the title track from 2015’s Cradle to the Grave got as warm as response as 1979’s Cool for Cats.
There was an early apology from lead vocalist Glenn Tilbrook who offered (threatened?) some Tom Waits-esque vocals due to having nearly lost his voice. Whatever tea/hot water/manuka honey/whisky mix he sipped on from a mug throughout the rest of the evening appeared to work its magic though and his vocals were able to skip through his trademark enchanting melodies. The rest of the band were in full health and gave a high energy performance, including literal karate-chopping synthesiser action from keyboardist Stephen Large.
With absent alumni Jools Holland, Christopher Holland and Gilson Lavis due at the Corn Exchange just two days later (with the rest of the former’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra), an historic reunion was tantalisingly close to being on the cards. Squeeze were none the poorer for their absence though and the audience bounced the evening away chanting that oh-so-catchy instrumental line from Up the Junction. Difford’s lyrics and Tilbrook’s melodies are an ensnaring combination that cannot be forgotten.
If you’re quick, you might just be able to scoop up one of the last few tickets for Jools Holland on Sunday 30 November.