Paul Heaton & Squeeze in 2012

Another old review which has long since fallen off the Post website and never been on mine. Squeeze are one of the bands I’ve seen most often at the Concert Hall, though I must confess that, this century, I’ve preferred Glen Tilbrook’s solo shows to his band ones, as I suggest in this review, which was knocked off straight after the gig on December 5th. It was the first time I’d seen Paul Heaton since The Beautiful South opened for REM at Huddersfield’s football ground in 1995, though I’ve since seen him twice with Jacqui Abbot. Even my partner, Sue, who hated TBS (she calls them ‘the pencil case people’, referencing ‘Song for Whoever’) thoroughly enjoyed Paul’s set. Anyway, here’s what I wrote ten years ago….

Squeeze have a new concept: ‘the pop-up shop’. After the gig, you can buy a cd of the gig, together with an EP of Squeeze’s first new recordings for twelve years. Sound a bit cheeky? But cheek has always been at the heart of Squeeze’s appeal and, despite the substantial ticket price, the RCH is nearly sold out.
Opener Paul Heaton (‘I’m the good looking one from The Beautiful South’) adds value, and is an engaging presence with plenty of witty banter. He adds a splendid ‘Ol’ Red Eyes Is Back’ and two Housemartins’ songs to solid solo material. Heaton concludes his all to brief 40 minutes with a lovely ‘Caravan Of Love’, falsetto intact, and gets a standing ovation, the first I’ve ever seen for a support act.
Follow that! Not easy. Squeeze’s odd choice of opener: minor, early hit Bang Bang, sets the tone for a show that never really gets going. Newish keyboard player Stephen Large works hard in front of the illuminated bedframes backdrop and cheesy videos. The others have moments of rapport, but often seem to be going through the motions. 
The audience expects the odd new song, maybe a couple of obscurities for the diehards. Tonight, however, every gem – a singalong Labelled With Love, Annie Get Your Gun or Some Fantastic Place – seems to be followed by a relative clunker. An unmemorable new song, perhaps, or a Chris Difford throwaway.
Maybe this was an off night. The main hits are present and nearly correct, but Chris has to tell the crowd to stand up for Tempted and Another Nail In My Heart is sung off-key.
The closing, pleasingly ramshackle Goodbye Girl, Glenn on ukelele, is a highlight, reminiscent of Tilbrook’s xmas solo shows. Then the band troop off to sign cds. 

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