SQUEEZE - In concert at The Metro on Wednesday
Special to the Globe
“I want to see movement all around the place,” declared Squeeze lead guitarist Glenn Tilbrook near the end of his band’s sold-out performance at The Metro. Most of the audience was happy to comply when Squeeze roared through “Goodbye Girl” from the group’s second A&M album “Cool for Cats.”
Tilbrook’s request captured the band’s raison d’etre Wednesday evening. Squeeze produced music that made people dance. Their sound is energetic, well-crafted English pop that features some bristling guitar work and enough hooks to service a small fishing fleet.
The wild variety of people at The Metro indicated that Squeeze’s music has something for almost everyone. There were people in feathers and leathers, Panama hats and surfing tops, T-shirts and jeans. Tilbrook wouldn’t have it any other way. “It's what we’ve always wanted,” he said. “Which is why we’ve worked so hard over the years to avoid any kind of musical classification. Now it’s finally beginning to pay off because we’re getting a lot of different people at our shows.”
Although the band’s popularity in the area has skyrocketed on the strength of its most recent album . “East Side Story.” Squeeze’s live show emphasized much material from their previous records, especially “Argybargy.” “We structured our act that way,” Tilbrook explained after the show “Because what we do on stage isn’t necessarily what we do on record.”
What they do on stage is play most of their better-known material and intersperse it with songs from the new album. Some of the band’s older tunes, such as “Slap and Tickle” and “Cool for Cats” now contain some steamy instrumental breaks, which Tilbrook mentioned had come about because the group has two new members in John Bentley on bass and Paul Carrack on keyboards. “I hate the idea of having to play something because that's .the way it was played before. The new versions just evolved really.”
Carrack had previously been with the band Ace, and though his on-stage demeanour isn’t nearly as visual as Jools Holland’s, Squeeze's previous keyboard player, his incisive instrumental work adds a new dimension to Squeeze’s sound. He also sang lead on the band’s hit single “Tempted.” The song’s success has been important because, Tilbrook pointed out, “It has definitely helped to improve the size of our audience, and a lot, of people have caught on to the band.”
Guitarists Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford are the creative nucleus of Squeeze: the pair write nearly all of the band's material and have developed an effective on-stage Chemistry. Tilbrook is blond and has a mischievous Huck Finn persona. His light and airy vocal style contrasts nicely with Difford's darker, more serious looks and technique.
The material from their new album touched on many bases from the rockabilly of “Messed Around” to the country sounds of “Labelled With Love.” Even “In Quintessence,” with its debt to Booker T. and the M.G.’s, is a musical departure for the band. “It’s got a different sound,” Tilbrook said about the new album “East Side Story.” “We needed a change of direction and were prepared to take chances on it.”
Although there were, once again, some sound problems at The Metro, and Tilbrook’s guitar excursions occasionally went awry Squeeze’s show was fast fun, which is exactly what a good rock and roll concert should be.