The pairing of wry Brit popsters Squeeze, on a reunion tour, with the Chicago-bred kings of power pop Cheap Trick, on a never ending tour, might have seemed odd on the surface.
But the direct line that can be drawn from Lennon and McCartney to the songwriting approach of both bands made them kindred spirits. Each group rose to prominence in the new wave era but neither were quite of it. Squeeze was too clever and quirky and Cheap Trick too metallic. Last night's show at the
The golden tickets held by the three-quarters capacity crowd took some time to pay off but it's safe to say everyone left with a tune or ten stuck in their heads.
The Squeeze of 2007 consists of formerly estranged singer-songwriter-guitarists Glenn Tilbrook (music) and Chris Difford (lyrics) and three very capable hired hands on keyboards, bass, and drums.
The 95 minute set was broken into two distinct pieces. A few familiar tracks were played up front, including "Take Me I'm Yours," the insistent soul-saturated "Hourglass" and the lilting story song "Up the Junction." But the balance of the early going was dedicated to less familiar, later period material that might have been a hit across the pond but didn't register with the bulk of the crowd.
The band, led by Tilbrook's still agile vocals and underrated guitar work, was able to maintain interest by the sheer craft of tunes, including the smothering mommy number "Walk Away" and the doleful yet jazzy Difford-sung "Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken." It helped immeasurably that the leaders and their back-up musicians were clearly getting a buzz from each other's playing and the crowd's energy.
It was the second half that most people came to hear, however. From "Annie Get Your Gun" through set closer "Tempted" to encore "Black Coffee in Bed," the singalongs were louder and zestier.
Cheap Trick took a mix-and-match approach to their hourlong set. They'd play a familiar track like "Budokan"-fave "I Want You To Want Me" alongside a newer song like "Perfect Stranger" from 2006's "Rockford." Although the mix turned Rick Nielsen's guitar sound into a gnarly morass, the hits--"Dream Police," "Surrender," prom ballad "The Flame"--were instantly recognizable, and lead singer Robin Zander did his level best to hit the highs of yore.