British rockers Squeeze brought their Songbook Tour to Minneapolis on Tuesday night. A packed State Theatre bore witness to a deep catalogue of rock and roll history.
Born in London in 1973, Squeeze was the brainchild of teenage buddies Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook. While they have been playing together since the early ’70’s, they didn’t release their first full length album until 1978. Take Me I’m Yours was smash in England, but it took the 1980 album Argybargy for the band to become known to the U.S. audience. “Pulling Mussels From A Shell” was so different from anything on the radio waves in the ’80’s, and Squeeze were recognized as pioneers of a “new wave” of rock coming from Britton. They took a while to catch on, and by 1987 had their first Top 40 hit with “Hourglass. By this time Squeeze where so huge that they were the first band to ever play MTV’s Unplugged. This is the pedigree the band brought to the State Tuesday night.
Supporting Squeeze on Tuesday night was KT Tunstall. She opened with “Miniature Disasters” from Eye To The Telescope”. Though her set was short, it was lively and powerful, Tunstall filled the stage with her presence. I’m a sucker for a good cover, and KT broke out 2. After telling the crowd that she had visited Paisley Park earlier in the day and showing off her purple pants, KT wanted to try something new. She prefaced the song by apologizing to Prince, and then broke into “Let’s Go Crazy“ Next up was the mashup of ” Hold On >Walk Like An Egyptian”. The packed State enthusiastically cheered at the end of her set.
As the lights went down, the theme from The Magnificent Seven began playing through the PA. This was a tie in to the band introductions, and as the 7 names were announced, the loudest responses were saved for Difford and Tillbrook. The band then went into their opening tune “Footprints” off of the album Babylon And On. The band sounded tight, thanks to the backing of longtime drummer Simon Hanson and keyboardist Steven Large. The band rolled through “Big Beng” pretty quickly before the band broke into three monster songs in a row. Starting with “Hourglass”, Squeeze hit the audience hard with the earworms that have come to identify the band. Amazing songwriting and musicianship blazed through on “Pulling Muscles (From The Shell)” and “Up The Junction “, spotlighting the genius of Difford and Tilbrook. While Chris Difford writes most of the lyrics, his low register voice sang wonderfully backing Tilbrook on “Up The Junction” and taking the lead vocals on “Cool For Cats”. The vocals were spot on, and these live versions sounded fresh and vibrant.
The 7 theme showed up again as the band rounded out the evening with a string of that many killer tunes.OK, maybe I kind of made that up, but these 7 tunes were pretty awesome. Starting with “Tempted”, many in the crowd danced as the band powered through hit after hit.Next was “Another Nail In My Heart”. One of the highlights of the evening for me was in the middle of this 7 layer sandwich, the sad and soulful “Goodbye Girl” paired with “If I Didn’t Love You I’d Hate You “. This magnificent seven ended with “Take Me I’m Yours”, “Is That Love’ and “Black Coffee In Bed”.
The Squeeze songbook is strong, and for 90 plus minutes the timeless collaborations of Difford and Tilbrook proved to hold powerful sway over a grateful State Theatre.