LIVE: Squeeze / John Cooper Clarke - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 09/11/2022 2

LIVE: Squeeze / John Cooper Clarke – Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 09/11/2022

While waiting for tonight’s gig to start, I find myself reflecting on just how damn important the punk explosion of 1976 was. Not just because you could take three chords and go and form a band (though the importance of that shouldn’t be underestimated), but how many acts it opened the door for. Whatever labels you might insist on using (and that could be a PhD, if it hasn’t already), acts like Squeeze and John Cooper Clarke, while seemingly rather different, were just two of many acts who came through as a result of the massive hole that punk blasted.

Clarke was the punk poet of the seventies, and tracks of his appear on punk compilations along with the likes of the big names (Sex Pistols etc..) as well as the legendary NME C81 cassette. Whilst his work has often been backed by musicians, tonight he appears on stage alone, and holds the audience in the palm of his hand. He’s outlived many of the punk scene’s characters and reflects in his wonderful way on getting older on newer poems like ‘Bed Blocker Blues.’ Yet he’s also become something of a national treasure, and you sense that actually part of him is rather pleased about this. One classic is ‘Beasley Street‘ of which he wryly observes that how often it turns up on documentaries about Margaret Thatcher, yet he wrote it before she came into power, and whether she possibly took some ideas. He also gives us ‘Beasley Boulevard‘’ which takes the same area as its theme and deals with the topic of urban regeneration. His well-received set finishes with the blunt ‘Twat‘ and the fabulous ‘I Wanna Be Yours‘ a wonderful declaration of love that was not only adapted by Arctic Monkeys for their AM album but also ended up on the GCSE syllabus and is frequently heard at weddings.

That set alone would have been worth the trip out, but Squeeze are on absolute fire tonight. While much of their best known work is from their first five years recording, they have a new EP out, Food For Thought, which is very definitely worth investigating. Like John Cooper Clarke, they have an impressive body of work from the late 1970s onwards – but this is still being added to, rather than simply being an exercise in nostalgia.

Messrs Difford and Tilbrook and their excellent band open with an amazing three part opener. ‘Take Me I’m Yours,’ ‘Hourglass‘ and ‘Up The Junction.’ The latter has a definite claim for ultimate bittersweet love song of any era. These might have been down for an encore – but there’s way more up their sleeves. So we get other tracks like the title of their 2015 album ‘Cradle To The Grave,’ ‘What Have They Done?‘ from the soundtrack to When The Wind Blows, and the ode to touring that is ‘I Think I’m Go Go.’

Watching the band on form I’m reminded of the advertising slogan for a Crowded House compilation from the 1990s, which applies here -‘you know more Squeeze songs than you think you do.’ It’s a joyous experience, being part of a crowd of many ages, actually enjoying an act and getting steadily more and more into them. Squeeze developed from the new wave and there’s the country-ish ‘Labelled With Love‘ and the wistful ‘Mussels From A Shell.‘ By the time they get onto the closing run of ‘Goodbye Girl‘ the entire audience are on their feet, just as well as we then get ‘Another Nail In My Heart,’ ‘Tempted‘ and the evergreen ‘Cool For Cats.’ It could have ended there but we get an encore of ‘Slap And Tickle‘ and an epic ‘Black Coffee In Bed.’

I could try and find some words about any failures or let downs – but that just seems wrong. This is how to look after your catalogue, put on a great show and leave your audience on a high. Squeeze are touring to the end of the month, if you haven’t got tickets, sort it out.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.