Squeeze, Brighton Dome, East Sussex
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Thursday 22 November 2012
Six years into their latest reunion, Squeeze are braced for the crucial stage where Madness now stand: writing new songs that can match their best.
This Pop-Up Shop tour is also an attempt to find a brave new business model for the shattered record industry they’ve returned to. Debuting new songs during the gig, the band’s core duo Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook then man the stalls to sell and sign instant CD mementos, T-shirts and tea towels.
Squeeze start with a 1978 single even they reputedly dislike, “Bang Bang”, but are soon debuting their first new songs in 14 years. “Tommy” is a play for today from their old South London stomping ground, about a racist, humiliated English teacher who takes a violent “little paranoid excursion” to the local off-license.
“Top of the Form” is a memoir of careless 1970s schooldays. Set to a ska lope, its verses layer on the writer’s current middle-aged respectability – success, or betrayal? - and longed for family dinners which his “memory cradles”. These uncluttered, clean-hitting narratives are the sort of literate pop learnt at the school of Ray Davies which once used to chart.
Tilbrook (music, and these days some lyrics too) still has his high, soulful voice, while Difford (chastened, utterly realistic lyrics of betrayal and comeuppance a speciality) mostly hangs back on the sidelines, an anonymous observer in shades.
It’s their hits which make the show, of course. “I said to my reflection, let’s get out of this place,” Tilbrook sings on “Tempted”, one of a suspicious quantity of songs about the undignified retreat of unfaithful men which Difford’s life at the time will easily decode. “Up the Junction”, that triumphant summation of a failed affair from drunken fumble to divorce remains the pinnacle.
What looks like 1970s home movie footage of a South London street gig shows the hungry young men capable of such urgent attack. Other, ceaseless video footage, though, distracts from songs which hardly need such decoration.
When Difford walks past me, strumming “Goodbye Girl” on the way to the merchandise stall, he’s sweating and grinning, adrenalin pumped by this new manoeuvre. Otherwise, the show’s effects try too hard to move with the times. The old business model of singing great songs to a passionate crowd who know every word like the names of their children still suffices.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
- 5 Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Jorge Luis Borges fan brings his infinite library to life online
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Trailer for Robin Williams' last film Absolutely Anything starring Simon Pegg released
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils