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Glenn Tilbrook Goes Solo But Still Squeezes Out the Hits
Martyr’s - Chicago, IL
Tuesday, May 7, 2002
Story and Photos by Andy Argyrakis
Any fans of 70s and 80s Brit-pop/rock are familiar with Squeeze, the long running group that Glenn Tilbrook founded with Chris Difford in 1973. After 13 albums, numerous tours, and occasional lineup changes, primary singer and songwriter Tilbrook went solo at the end of last year, as documented in his subsequent release The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook.
On his current solo acoustic tour, the set list is far from incomplete, filled with most of the hits fans remember, highlights from the new album, and a few covers sprinkled in across a two hour timeline. Taking the stage in a black shirt and multi-colored checkerboard pants, Tilbrook sauntered through the sing-a-longs “Black Coffee in Bed,” “Hourglass” (minus the bubbling horn section) and “Take Me I’m Yours.” New tracks like the delightfully poppy “This is Where You Ain’t” and the ode to cooking the most important meal of the day (“Sunday Breakfast Treat”) faired well during the first half of the evening.
Another standout from the new album was the gentle ballad “Observatory,” which Tilbrook co-wrote with Aimee Mann. During the show, Tilbrook also performed “From a Whisper to a Scream,” his collaboration with Elvis Costello. When it came to other artists, he gave nods to The Monkees with a cover of “I’m a Believer” and a country tinged take on Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind.”
As if the variety of the aforementioned tracks wasn’t enough to hold the packed club’s attention, Tilbrook gave fans an option as to the format they’d like for his encore. After “Anne Get Your Gun,” Tilbrook returned to the stage with the following proposal: “We can either stay here at Martyr’s and go through a couple more songs or we can leave the club and go singing together in the street,” he suggested to the surprised crowd. Obviously, the biggest response came after Tilbrook’s idea for the club to file out into Lincoln Street, but most probably thought he was merely kidding. Believe it or not, Tilbrook unplugged his guitar, walked off the stage, and went outside into the middle of Lincoln Street! Over 200 concertgoers quickly shuffled out after him and eventually joined him in the middle of the road for a late night rendition of “Goodbye Girl.”
When the song was over, one boisterous fan suggested to the crowd that they should all go to the Grizzly Lounge across the street and have Tilbrook play a bit more for those patrons. Tilbrook once again obliged and the entire crowd poured into Grizzly Bear for yet another encore song! As a shocked wait staff and excited audience from the Grizzly Bear looked on, Tilbrook hopped on top of their bar and belted out a joyous rendition of “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell).”
Such a spontaneous and unprecedented stunt yielded unending applause and fanfare from attendees from both clubs, who Tilbrook invited back to Martyr’s once again for a performance of “Tempted.” He waited patiently for all attendees to get back into the club and then launched into the song’s infectious lyrics.
When it was all said and done, Tilbrook’s engaging and unconventional performance made every last attendee beam with delight. Not only were they able to hear an exhaustive sampling of Tilbrook and Squeeze’s songbook, but they also had the chance to get up close and personal to the near legend in a handful of different venues. As long as Tilbrook continues hosting such audience friendly shows, there’s no reason why his solo career can’t thrive just as much as his original band’s.