Friday, 22 August 2014

Glenn Tilbrook in Saltburn

Glenn Tilbrook
Spa Hotel, Saltburn
Having enjoyed Glenn Tilbrook's excellent show at The Arc last December, I was delighted to see he was returning to Teesside so soon. Not that the advertising poster was much help, which somehow managed to get the date wrong by a few days.

I'd only been to the Spa Hotel once before and that was to see Nine Below Zero (Glenn's collaborators on The Co-Operative album). On that occasion it had become clear that bagging one of the front tables was preferable to taking a chance with the outer seats, because some members of the audience preferred to talk to each other - very loudly - instead of watching the band. With that in mind, front row seats were duly grabbed - although it didn't solve all the sound problems of the evening.

Indeed, from the very first number, Glenn spent a significant part of the first half of the show struggling to fully communicate various issues regarding the on-stage monitors. Even though everything sounded fine from our side of the show, things were clearly not right on stage. Eventually, the problems led to him abandoning an acoustic version of Black Sheep and taking an unscheduled break of five minutes. He returned and started Black Sheep again, this time with electric guitar rather than acoustic, which he kept for the rest of the show.

Less experienced artistes may have suffered a lot more but Glenn remained ultra-polite throughout the problems. Fortunately, he works without a written set list and he can adapt his repertoire according to circumstance. On this evening we were treated to a fine selection of Squeeze classics plus songs from The Co-Operative and his most recent solo album, Happy Ending (by the way, both of those are definitely worth picking up) and other eras, and even a few unexpected covers.
Set List

Ter-wit Ter-woo

(At this point, talented guitarist 11-year-old Leon Tilbrook - Glenn's son! - took to the stage and after a couple of blues numbers there followed a duet on the next number - Take Me I'm Yours - before leaving Glenn solo again for the rest of the show.)

Take Me I'm Yours
Up The Junction
The Truth
Black Sheep acoustic, abandoned
Black Sheep with electric guitar
Chat Line Larry
Black Coffee
Another Nail in My Heart

Annie Get Your Gun
The Elephant Ride
Love Potion No.9
Melody Motel
Some Fantastic Place
I Hear You Knocking
Oh Well
Slap and Tickle
Everybody Sometimes
Is That Love

''What would you like to hear?'' asked Glenn, as he emerged for the encore, whereupon he was met with a deluge of requests. Cool For Cats was a popular choice, but one he had to decline (he wasn't confident about getting anywhere near Squeeze-mate Chris Difford's trademark vocal delivery). Nevertheless, he pulled out three popular choices to conclude the evening's entertainment.

Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)
Ice Cream (with semi-obligatory audience sing-along)
Goodbye Girl

Little anecdotes occasionally punctuated the songs. The best concerned a Scottish barber who had convinced himself he had talent, even though his sample song was nothing more than a poor version of Lola. This was why Glenn now wears his hair longer than he did when we saw him at The Arc.

Long hair!
Elsewhere, we heard about Beach Boy Dennis Wilson (about whom the song Dennis is about) telling Squeeze not to split up at the end of their Jamaican tour of 1982 (advice they didn't follow) and the way to gauge a person's age (it depends on whether they call festivals ''pop festivals'' or not), which led into Persephone (with its Bolan Deborah roots clearly showing).
Sound issues aside (which should have been ironed out pre-show), this was a very entertaining evening. Hopefully Teesside won't have to wait too long for a return visit.

As usual, Glenn was on hand for a quick chat after the show.
Follow the latest Tilbrook news and tour dates over at his official website.

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