When I heard Squeeze and The English Beat were touring in the New York area, my face started to resemble an over excited emoji. The Paramount Theater in Huntingon, was the place were I and 1,555 other people were going to pile into the way back machine and reclaim a bit of the 1980’s. My mother told me that I’d wear out the “Singles 45 and Under” CD that was in constant play on my player. She didn’t understand exactly quite how CD’s worked yet, they’d just come out. But that CD I still have, I still listen to and I’m not making a leap in coming to to conclusion that everyone that got to one (or all) of the three shows that were in the New York area also was also ready for The English Beat to drop the ear worm that has stood up to time and sing the lyrics ‘Sooner or later / Your legs give way, you hit the ground / Save it for later / Don’t run away and let me down’.
We wouldn’t have to wait too long for the later as Dave Wakeling, who comes across for some reason as one of the nicest guys on the planet, and on this tour flanked by the impossibly fit man King Schasha, started up the first set. King Schasha worked the stage like a man on a mission to make sure everyone had a good time. Between tossing his dreadlocks to the beat and always keeping the energy up he snagged a couple of self phones and took some video and a selfie or two. But you never forgot the man in the center. Wakeland’s voice, creates a tone that is the bridge between ska and pop. He makes it work and it was pitch perfect. He seems to have genuine fun up there and has one of the best quotes of the night jokingly remarking “It’s not a party till someone fucks up a motown song” and starting into “Tears of a Clown”. As they closed the set Lakeland gave the stage to King Schasha and the rest of the touring band and they had a fantastic jam to close the set.
It was now time for Squeeze. An amusing announcement was played with a video introducing who was with the band. The adorable muffins Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford were the original members present and as the set started up it was immediately clear that the original sound of Squeeze, the one that powers the way back machine was not going to let us down and we buckled up to take the ride. The bass thumps, the drum beats and the keys kick in right after, and everyone sang along like it was the first time. The set started off with a slow build that hit a high point when they played “Tempted”. Honestly what is it with that song that makes the energy in the room was spike. That song has a power over people. My current theory is that song actually releases endorphins in the brain that just make you happy. After they played “Tempted” I made my way to the top of the venue just in time to catch a few pictures of the house lights going on as the crowd sang “Good Bye Girl” and clapped. It was a moment that made my heart explode with happiness. I know that everyone forgot their problems and the day got better in that one moment.
Squeeze sounded terrific, and their new material stands up to the nostalgic glow of their hits. As a fan girl trying to find a flaw in what went down, I just can’t. The setlist was kinda perfect. Tilbrook and Difford were fantastic at keeping the sound right. They seemed to be as happy to be playing the music as the fans were to hear it and they genuinely seemed to, after 42 years, be having a good time with each other. There was a moment when the two women that I was standing with during the encore said,”They haven’t played ‘Black Coffee’, I don’t think anyone is leaving till that goes down.” And almost as if the band heard them, the unmistakable open with the keyboard introduction started up.
As I’d entered the venue I pass the march table and a tee shirt that reads. “I’d forgotten how much I liked Squeeze” caught my eye. The marketing genius that came up with that one deserves an award, the teeshirt It was mine at the end of the night.
Is That Love
Another Nail in My Heart
Friday on My Mind (The Easybeats cover)
Cool for Cats
Slap and Tickle
Cradle to the Grave
Harper Valley PTA (Jeannie C. Riley cover)
I Don’t Wanna Grow Up (Tom Waits cover)
If I Didn’t Love You
Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)
Up the Junction
Snap, Crackle and Pop
Black Coffee in Bed
Take Me I’m Yours