Main image: Craig Maplesden, all others DannyClifford
'Food For Thought' tour
It’s been almost half a century since Chris Difford stole 50p from his mother's purse to put a card in a local sweetshop window to advertise for a guitarist to join his band. Nearly 50 years on, and the only respondent to this ad is still by his side in the form of Glenn Tilbrook.
Named as a facetious tribute to the Velvet Underground's oft-derided 1973 album Squeeze, the band have seen a variety of band members over the years, albeit the once coined 'heirs to Lennon and McCartney's throne’ are the foundation of both the bands sound and longevity.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Bath leg of their ‘Food for Thought' tour, which takes in 25 venues across the UK and continues their relationship with the anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust. Throughout the tour, Squeeze and their fans will once again be supporting the charity which provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty while campaigning for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
Right now, millions of people across the country are facing a cost of living crisis as food and energy prices soar and families are feeling the biggest squeeze on incomes in a generation. That’s why attendees on the tour are being invited to bring along food donations to the shows, where there will be collection points across the venue each night. There will also be collection buckets for any cash donations. All donations will be distributed to people in crisis across the 1,300 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust network.
Commenting ahead of the show, Chris Difford said: “It’s so sad that in these times people have to lean on local food banks to feed their families, please support The Trussell Trust by offering as much as you can afford and enjoy the music we have created”. More on how much the Bath Forum audience raised and contributed later...
Supporting Squeeze on the tour is non-other than punk poet and social commentator Dr John Cooper Clarke. This is one ‘support’ act you cannot miss. Standing on the stage with just a microphone, table and series of books, Cooper Clarke performed many of his popular poems like “I Wanna Be Yours”, "Evidently Chickentown" and ‘Tw*t” to name a few. Cooper Clarke had the audience in the palm of his hands with his trademark rock-star delivery, and with more than a splattering of social observations and jokes (mainly about marriage). It's clear to see why so many punk and post-punk bands are desperate to collaborate with the great man - this is a perfect start to the night.
So onto the main event. It’s been just under 25 years since I last saw the band perform, and from the opening gambit of ’Take Me I’m Yours’ (their 1977 debut single), 'Hourglass' and 'Up The Junction’ - not only have they not lost a step, but they sound better than ever.
The band then took the Bath Forum crowd on a musical journey of their impressive back catalogue. Taking in classics such as ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, 'Is That Love’, ‘Labelled with Love’, ‘Pulling Muscles' and a toned-down version of ’Tempted’ (my personal favourite) to name a few. Messers Difford and Tilbrook subtly slotted some new and lesser know tunes into the set that included the title song of their new EP ‘Food for Thought’. With its pithy commentary on society, the cost of living crisis, and the increasing reliance on food banks, the introduction of ‘Food for Thought’ certainly created a change in atmosphere. With lyrics such as:
Robert waits for his turn no fuss
The wage he earns is not enough
It’s simply a disgrace
Their needs cannot be met
Food for thought we’re not done yet
It brought a sense of reflection, a time to ponder at the state of our society, and was a poignant reminder that although we were out to have a great night and enjoy one of the best live acts on the circuit; there was a purpose to the evenings events. To whip the crowd back into a frenzy, the Deptford Due, ably assisted by a group of talented, energetic (and may I say), slightly eccentric band members, continued to the perform the production line of hits that have helped Squeeze sell out shows for the past 5 decades. With a final flourish of ’Another Nail In My Heart’, the aforementioned ’Tempted’, the iconic ‘Cool For Cats’ and an encore of ’Slap And Tickle’ and ‘Black Coffee In Bed’ (which included some impressive solos from the entourage), it is no wonder why Squeeze have an army of followers that will continue to add to their, already impressive legacy.
An amazing night had by all, which raised 211.5kg in food donations as well as a total of £1,440.50 in cash.