Glenn Tilbrook City Winery New York, NY September 26, 2014
Touring solo without his long-time writing partner Chris Difford no longer seems to be terrifying for Glenn Tilbrook. Over the years throughout all of the (many) break-ups, stops, starts, reformations and reconfigurations of Squeeze, Tilbrook has managed to build a very credible solo canon of work. Always at home on stage, Tilbrook's solo song-writing continues to evolve. As the co-writer of all of those fantastic Squeeze songs, Tilbrook was responsible for the music and Difford the lyrics. During the past dozen or so years, Tilbrook's songs writing acumen has grown exponentially. When he released his first solo CD The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook (What Are Records, 2001) Tilbrook freely admitted that writing the lyrics was the hardest part. The music came easily. At that time he proved that he could make it on his own.
Now, in 2014, Squeeze is again a working band. It has been selling copies of the self-produced Arse In Face EP (2012) at its concerts, has plans to record new material and will return to tour the United States in 2015. Tilbrook has never been one to let the grass grow under his feet. He has decided to undertake a solo tour (without his solo backing band, the Fluffers) and play alone with just an acoustic and electric guitar in a number of intimate venues across the U.S.
On a warm Friday in late September, Tilbrook played the second of two sold- out nights at New York's City's only fully-functioning winery, City Winery. The winery which is also a word-class restaurant is a regular stop for some of the most critically acclaimed acts in the business including Prince, Peter Wolf, Macy Gray, Jeff Bridges, Graham Nash, Shelby Lynne, David Bromberg, X, John Hiatt, Dave Mason, Matthew Sweet, Aaron Neville and Patti Smith.
Always completely at ease on stage, whether he's cracking jokes, singing solo offerings, performing classic Squeeze songs, offering inspired cover songs or leading the audience in a round of "Happy Birthday" sung to his writing partner Chris Difford all the while snapping selfies with Difford's son Riley, Tilbrook never disappoints. Over the years he has become much more than just a frontman. He's more than just a musical arranger now full-fledged songwriter. He has become a consummate entertainer. The evening began when Tilbrook bounded onto the stage with a hearty, "Hey!" When the crowd responded in kind, he, for good measure and maximum effect repeated what for Tilbrook amounted to his own version of a "rebel yell." Interspersing witty banter with his music, Tilbrook was "in the zone." From the moment he stepped on stage, the singer had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Touring in support of Happy Ending his 2014 Quixotic Records solo release, Tilbrook played long and hardtwo tour-de-force acoustic sets delving deep into both his solo catalogue as well as the Squeeze canon. Interjecting humor and fun banter (he told a great story about being the scruffy Glenn Tilbrook as he was wearing an old but comfortable blazer, t-shirt and old faded jeans) between the songs, his two sets featured the classic Squeeze songs that the audience members hoped to and expected to hear: "Take Me I'm Yours," "The Elephant Ride," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Some Fantastic Place," "Black Coffee In Bed," "Labelled With Love," "In Quintessence," "Messed Around" (which he slyly introduced by stating, "I am gonna rock...in a gentle way on an electric guitar."), "Goodbye Girl" "Piccadilly," "Slightly Drunk" and, of course, "Tempted."
Tilbrook also treated his fans to songs recorded for his solo albums and for the Co-operative. These post-Squeeze songs included "Persephone" (which he explained was about someone that that he met at a festival during the '70s), "Chat Line Larry" (recorded with the Co-Operative), "By The Light Of The Cash Machine" (from The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook), "Ray" and "Best Of Times" (from Happy Ending) and "Black Sheep" from the Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers Pandemonium Ensures CD (Quixotic Records, 2009) He also had the audience sing along with him on "Ice Cream" which he dedicated to his grandfather who he explained was a musician in his own rite who taught him the tune when he was young. The evening's truly inspired covers were note perfect renditions of The Kinks' "Tired of Waiting For You" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Traveling Band." Lastly, he explained that it would be Chris Difford's 60th birthday on November 4th. He brought Difford's son Riley on stage, set his iPhone to record and focused it on the two of them as they led the crowd to a hilarious (if off-key due to the poor singing capabilities of the audience) rendition of "Happy Birthday."
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