As the queue to enter the Cambridge Corn Exchange snaked around the building, we knew the Squeeze gig was going to be another packed out event. We arrived as the support band Heaven 17 took the stage and we settled into our seats as this electronic band from Sheffield sang out a selection of tracks that transported us to back to the early 80s. The lead band members Glenn Gregory (vocals) and Martyn Ware (synths & vocals) were both in the original line up, and are now supported by two talented female backing singers and another lady on keyboard. The crowd obviously contained a large number of Heaven 17 fans who all seemed to be reliving their youth to the mix of story-telling lyrics and simplistic synth music. As two of the original 3 band members were from Human League, Glenn and Martyn slowed the set to perform a duet of a Heaven 17 tribute to the Human League version of the old Righteous brothers hit ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. Although we all sang along, I couldn’t help feeling that the accompanying music was too reminiscent of the Psycho film sound-track and did not marry well with the song. The ladies returned to the stage and the band brought the tempo back up with a well-received rendition of ‘Penthouse and Pavement’, finally finishing the set with one of their best known tracks, and my personal favourite, ‘Temptation’.
Next up was the main event, Squeeze – what a difference in approach. The stage went from just two synth players to a full 7-piece band, with drums, keyboards, guitars, percussion and bass. The opening video showed the band’s tour locations and considering they have been going since the early 70s they are still surprisingly busy. In addition to the current tour they are actively involved in charity projects, with an EP of tracks chosen for this ‘Difford and Tilbrook Songbook Tour 2019’ on sale in the venues, all proceeds being donated to the Trussell Trust, a network of food banks throughout the UK.
The band launched straight into a non-stop string of hits, treating us to numerous anthems and sing along favourites including ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’ which was accompanied by a video capturing the feel of a typical British seaside holiday. They moved quickly and seamlessly through a diverse selection of their extremely large back catalogue. I hadn’t expected to know so many of their songs and they have clearly had far more hits than I had realised. These included ‘Slap and Tickle’, ‘Labelled With Love’, ‘Tempted’, ‘Up the Junction’, ‘Footsteps’, ‘Hourglass’, ‘Cool for Cats’, Take Me I’m Yours’ plus newer songs such as ‘Please Be Upstanding’, which is a song about erectile dysfunction typifying their style of delivering excellent musical arrangements underpinning lyrics that carry their unmistakable mix of humour and tragedy. The set was punchy, fun-packed with full of well-honed musical talent; I was particularly awed by Glenn’s guitar playing which was incredible. He was wonderfully complimented by great performances from the other band members, especially the keyboard player and drummer who were both absolutely captivating to watch. A hugely entertaining band who deserve to still be going so strong.