Review | Squeeze at O2 Guildhall, Southampton: 'Some of the best songwriting, brilliantly delivered'

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Back on the road for the first time in three years, Squeeze brought their Food for Thought tour to the O2 Guildhall in Southampton.

Still fronted by the original ’70s songwriting duo Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook, the tour supports an EP release of the same name, profits from which will be donated to food banks in the UK. Donations of both food and cash were also encouraged at the venue and seemed well supported.

The original ‘punk poet’ Dr John Cooper Clarke opened the show with his trademark wild black hair, dark glasses and sardonic Salford accent. Live poetry at a gig seemed brave but worked 45 years ago. On this evening it was sadly lost on some of the audience, not helped by the fast-paced delivery, the strength of the Mancunian accent and the acoustics. It’s a shame because the social commentary and wit in Clarke’s work are worth hearing.

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Squeeze, currently a seven-piece band, with Difford and Tillbrook the driving force are a tight outfit. Opening with 1978’s Take Me I’m Yours is a strong start and with Up The Junction at song three some of the seated crowd are on their feet early.

Squeeze at O2 Guildhall, Southampton on November 21, 2022. Picture by Martin CoxSqueeze at O2 Guildhall, Southampton on November 21, 2022. Picture by Martin Cox
Squeeze at O2 Guildhall, Southampton on November 21, 2022. Picture by Martin Cox

It’s an interesting line-up with a very charismatic drummer, a second percussionist with bongos, triangle and plenty of other gadgets, plus keyboards, bass and slide guitar behind Difford on acoustic and Tillbrook on lead guitar. Supported by a surprisingly impressive light show, it’s quite a spectacle.

Of course the theme that keeps the evening buzzing along is the back catalogue of memorable songwriting. From The Cradle to the Grave, Labelled with Love and Pulling Mussels feature mid set and the crowd are all on their feet as the show closes strongly with Goodbye Girl, Another Nail in my Heart, Tempted and the absolute classic Cool for Cats.

The band encores with Slap and Tickle and Coffee in Bed which features solos by each of the band to ram home just how talented this line-up is. With a setlist showing 23 songs, it’s a great example of some of the best songwriting of the last few decades, brilliantly delivered by a talented group of musicians who clearly love what they do – as did the crowd.