With a combined history of over 80 years of music, Squeeze and X both proved that 40 years after the release of their debut records the songs can sound as fresh and vibrant as they were 4 decades ago. At one time this would have been a strange billing, but both bands now fall under the "I forgot how good this band is" category, once you see them live again.
Legends in their own right, X put on a great show. Exene and Joe Doe's unique interweaving vocal chemistry, DJ Bonebrake rock solid drumming were intact, and although seated for most of the show guitarist Billy Zoom still rocks with fury and abandon. While always maintaining their punk rock pedigree, X has always cast a musical net as wide John Doe's on stage stance. A few songs Bonebrake played vibraphone and Zoom saxophone, and how many of their musical brethren can incorporate country & western and rockabilly with such ease? Playing mainly material from their first three albums, X played with youthful enthusiasm but with decades of musical chops to achieve a perfect balance. Classics such as "In This House That I Call Home", "Nausea" and "Los Angeles" have aged well, (as has the band themselves). "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene" was a highlight as was their closing song, their cover of the Door's "Soul Kitchen".
Squeeze have always been criminally underrated. The Difford-Tilbrook songbook is filled with some of the greatest pop songs in music, with great melodies and brilliantly clever lyrics which make you wonder, why they aren't radio staples. With a career spanning set list, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, and a great band, put on a solid show start to finish. Opening with "Footprints" "Big Bang" and "Hourglass" they raised the energy level up and maintained it all night. Glenn's honey smooth voice and Difford's charming croak seem an unlikely match but they blend in a one-of-a-kind sound that is uniquely Squeeze. This was even more apparent when the two Squeeze cohorts did small acoustic set of "Slap And Tickle" and "In Quintessence" alone. All seven members sang in unison to great effect on "Annie Get Your Gun". For their hit "Tempted" they enlisted the help of the audience and began with the chorus and it amped up the crowd enthusiasm to an ever higher level several times throughout the night. On songs like "Pulling Muscles From The Shell" and "Another Nail In My Heart" Tilbrook reminded everyone what a great guitarist he is with many an inspired solo.
The band has always had a keen visual perception and great sense of humor which was apparent in their record covers and classic videos. The 7 member band had sharp smartly individual colored suits and there was keen use of lighting. The background projected images were just brilliant. "Goodbye Girl" was played with a series of romance comic book panels, and "If I Didn't Love You" featured a historical montage of the band T-Shirt designs.
After delivering a stellar 20 plus song set that touched on almost every album of their career, the band returned for an encore and finished with what was their first single "Take Me I'm Yours". While on record its a sparse march, live it was turned into a full sounding gallop. They closed with one of their best known songs and fan favorite, "Black Coffee In Bed", and Glenn introduced every member of this exquisite band, and wrapped it up with a great call and response by the crowd. A great night all around, and a great reminder of how great two bands who came of age starting in the punk era transcend and how good their entire body of work is.