It was a milder Saturday night in Newcastle, Madness wowed crowds at the Arena, whilst our night was filled with anticipation of catching the North East chance to see the Pop Up Shop Tour. Support came in the form of one Paul Heaton, who impressed withy songs from both the Beautiful South with selected multiple hits and the Housemartins with the set finale of Caravan Of Love, everything was played with gusto and the pitch perfect voice of a true ‘frontman’, the new songs worked well, all due on an album next year. All bodes well, even when in solo.
If you have seen the Pop Up Shop UK Tour already, skip to the last paragraph, if not, here are some of the bare bones or the mere crumbs of what was a mighty feast of entertainment.
Squeeze are fast out of the blocks with refreshing punk tinged performance of ‘Bang Bang’ before ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ it was about this point that, I understood just who bought all the lights, from the recently cash strapped local councils from across the land. Not that it troubled the packed audience of the City Hall, which were lost in the production, with such a great organic soundtrack, impressive stage lighting and effects, event he large backdrop of rectangular video screen crackled into life with icons and images, live footage and effects, Leads me to half expect a future Christmas DVD?
Another classic, ‘Slap And Tickle’ shines bright, before the first new material from the band in all of 14 years, the first of the songs from the band’s new EP, is ‘Tommy’ which charms with the pleasant orchestration only to be betrayed as the lyric tells the tale of a pretty unpleasant character. The song signals a few new songs played tonight, followed by Chris Difford’s ‘Top Of The Form’ also from the new ‘Packet Of Four’ EP both to positive effect, proof as if it were needed that the band’s writing process is still intact and creative. Squeeze 2012 still sees the winning formula of Chris’ lyrics combined with Glenn’s melodies and production, listen to ‘Packet Of Four’ EP, Squeeze are on good form in 2012.
Remember ‘Still’ impressing before a faithful ‘Is That Love’ springs into action. Chris then introduces the crowd to the acoustic section of the show, “…and lighter guitars!”. ‘Labelled With Love’ with the now customary aplomb, complete with crowd singalong, next Blues 12 string guitar, brushes on coated snare herald aka a new rendition of “Things Could Be Worse.” the song gets a bit more whimsical and Jazz tinged, with a melodica free form stylings, all to positive effect; Crowd handclaps give way to a furious, mostly acoustic version of ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ again Glen Tillbrook vocals seem so solid and effortless as everything tonight its warmly received. Followed by Chris Difford’s ‘Cowboys Are My Weakness’ followed by another new foot stomper ‘From The Cradle to The Grave’. ‘Black Coffee In Bed’ still strikes a chord with the northern crowd, just as so may audiences have done around the world so far. Then ‘On My Own I Am Never Bored’ works well. At first thrown by the opening guitar intro that is ‘Tempted By The Fruit Of Another’ the alternate version works well, a grander palette of styles and musicianship, lead to a tight rendition of ‘Up The Junction’ (now described as ‘truly iconic’) then ‘Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)’.
Time for the audience to make some unaccompanied noise, as can be customary to encourage an encore, in PiL’s case “So we can have a quick cig” in Squeeze’s case I guess it’s for fluids and maybe a Lemsip for Glen Tillbrook who is full of cold, although from his vocal delivery, one would not suspect. On the Deptford band’s return it’s a re-constituted tight version of Cool For Cats’ served up with ‘Another Nail In My Heart’ then its crowd singalong of ‘Goodbye Girl’ which ended the set to a wall of noise.
Squeeze a very tasty prospect in 2012, the new material sits well with classic hits which are re-worked and tweaked, taking short pop songs and adding so much more, (diagrams later!). On the new EP ‘Packet Of Four’ which was given away free with tonight’s show afterward, three CDs in total, have made this Sunday and probably a lot more. I came here armed with high expectations, found myself revising the bar even higher and then higher again, as Squeeze delivered new and old, this may sound a little tired these days, but an impressive, enjoyable night that leaves you feeling the need for more, waiting on the stairs leading down to the band’s post show signing, overheard one guy, ask his friend, “so where’s the album?”, Wondering the same thing now, guess it cannot be too far away, I hope. 9.1