As we made our way up to the Nottingham Royal Centre, I was surprised at how busy it had become so early. There were people milling around all over the place outside. Probably, I thought, they were taking in the wonderful sights to be had in and around the Old Market Square now that the festive lights were on.
I had forgotten Paul Heaton was on first of all, so we hurried ourselves into the warmth, and sorted out the photo details and settled down for the 'support'. Not long after we had sat down, I was up again to take some pictures.
Tonight it felt that there was a double buzz. I had met a couple of friends that had come to see Paul as much as they had Squeeze, and it seemed it was the same for quite a few others.
The ex-Housemartin and, as he confirmed “good looking one from the Beautiful South”, shuffled on to the stage in his customary done-up jacket, and declared, “Well, that wasn't fucking hard though, was it?” and broke straight into 'Welcome to the South'. He followed this by a great crooning version of 'Little Red Rooster'.
He has not changed much from 'back in the day', and his voice is still there too. His politics and disdain for the monarchy haven't changed either, as he quipped right in with a comment about the latest Middleton affairs.
As he put it, “I was asked to warm you up,” but this was a cracking support. The crowd were enjoying every minute. The highlight for me was a fantastic 'Some Dancing to Do', and the finale when all on stage came to the front for the customary a cappella 'Caravan of Love'. It was brilliant, although I missed the 'Happy Hour' dance at the end.
There was a short intermission, and I was camera laden again for a few more shots before I found my way back to my seat for what was an absolute treat.
After being counted in and introduced one by one on to the stage , the five piece Squeeze was ready and kicked off in true style with 'Bang Bang' from their eponymous first album, followed by 'Annie Get Your Gun' and 'Without You Here'.
I marvelled at just how good they sound. The Royal Centre's acoustically designed music hall did the trick. As we approached the middle section of the concert, the five members of the band came to the front for acoustic versions of the brilliant 'Labelled with Love', 'Slaughtered' and took us right back to the start of their career with 'Take Me I'm Yours'. For a live set this really did sound like studio quality.
The set just got bigger and bolder and brighter the longer it went on. The Centre's lighting set made wonderful patterns as on the stage Squeeze made equally wonderful sounds. It got even better for yours truly when that famous guitar riff blasted out into the now frantic crowd, and they treated us to a time-travelling 'Up the Junction', which is possibly my favourite track of all time. As the sound of 'Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)' rang through the hall I made my way down to the stage again to “beachcomb” as I call it.
The encore began with Glenn Tilbrook waltzing straight into 'Cool for the Cats’, and then they did another favourite 'Another Nail' after which they finished with ‘Goodbye Girl’.
I was standing at the corner of the stage poised like a vulture when the tour manager, who I had met earlier, came down and announced to the security lads that they were coming off stage right where we were standing.No sooner had I taken this in what he'd said than Chris Difford came strolling past down the steps. Turning round quick as a bunny, I just caught the flying leap of another member of the band coming off the stage, and then spinning round to the steps I came face to face with Glenn Tilbrook - guitar in hand and sweating hard. Winking at me, he rushed past as I patted him on the back, and they were gone.
Welcome to the South
Little Red Rooster
Old Red Eyes
Some Dancing to Do
Costa Del Sombre
Me and the Farmer
Caravan of Love
Annie Get Your Gun
Without You Here
Slap and Tickle
Top of the Form
No Place Like Home
Is That Love?
Labelled with Love
Take Me I’m Yours
Cowboys are My Weakness
Cradle to the Grave
Coffee in Bed
Some Fantastic Place
On My Own
Up the Junction
Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)
Cool for Cats