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.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Narendra Modi: Indian Prime Minister wears suit with pinstripes that spell his name to meet Barack Obama
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after that Wembley Stadium rant
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Taylor Swift banned from Triple J Hottest 100: Fans react to epic #Tay4Hottest100 defeat
Mortdecai becomes Johnny Depp's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Last Tango in Halifax, review: Can we ever really move on from Kate?
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'