Since first catching Squeeze at the Roxy in West Hollywood in October 1991, I’ve seen the influential British pop/rock about a dozen times.
Yet I can’t recall a set list that included so many deep album cuts like the sold out show on Wednesday night at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Longtime fans in Orange County were definitely ecstatic. Before launching the solid 90-minute concert with “Take Me (I’m Yours)” – the first of three from ’78 debut record “U.K. Squeeze” – singer Glenn Tilbrook said, “It’s been awhile.” The song was among several to feature his tasty electric guitar solos.
Squeeze is currently touring to support the new “Live at the Fillmore” album. Recorded in San Francisco in 2010, it is available now on limited edition white vinyl (with download card containing "Spot the Difference: Greatest Hits"), via squeezeofficial.com and at shows. The
digital version comes out Tuesday at all major digital retailers.
Their debut appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. arrives today and April 21. Also look out for them on NBC's The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday.
The 23-song Capistrano set concentrated on the group’s late 1970s/80s heyday, with particular emphasis on 1979’s “Cool for Cats.” Fellow original singer/guitarist Chris Difford took over lead chores during rocking rarity “The Knack.” Although the venue sound mix was shaky at first, the problem was remedied fairly quick.
Prior to the “Frank” album B-side “Who’s That,” Tilbrook (sporting an ill-advised goatee) noted, “this reminds me of Captain Beefheart, Paul McCartney and James Last.” Constantly running images and animation on the stage backdrop were highly effective (loved the cartoon version of the old lineup acting out “Up the Junction” lyrics). A fast-paced “Is That Love” drove the crowd crazy, while the jazzy “Melody Motel” steadily increased in tempo.
For the final stretch, it was pretty much one U.K. hit after another as the duo’s trademark hi/low harmonies continue to jell well after a quarter century together: “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Hourglass,” “Goodbye Girl” (drummer Simon Hanson tapped on a wineglass for rhythm), “Pulling Mussels From the Shell.”
Tilbrook played a synth during the total new wave strains of “Slap & Tickle.” A stripped-down, singalong “Tempted” was even driven by bongos. Finally, it more call and response time my all-time-favorite Squeeze tune “Black Coffee in Bed.”
Opening the show was SoCal singer/guitarist Davis Fetter (pictured left) alongside a keyboardist and drummer. They definitely impressed with a 25-minute set of finely crafted alt-pop tunes characterized by Fetter's high falsetto vocals and easygoing approach.
Hands down, the highlight was “Euphoria,” which has received local music spotlight airplay on KROQ/106.7 FM. One to watch.
Photos by Bob Steshetz