Monday, April 30, 2012
SQUEEZE AND THE ENGLISH BEAT AT BERGEN PAC
I got to the theater after The English Beat started playing, and I walked in during their excellent cover of The Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There." I think that singer/guitarist Dave Wakeling is the only original member in the group, but he looked overjoyed - truly - to be there, and the band played the songs with the perfect amount of toughness and love. The last two songs were absolute classics: General Public's "Tenderness" (Wakeling formed GP after the English Beat broke up) and "Save It For Later," a song that both Pete Townshend and Pearl Jam have covered. What could have been rote readings of "I Love The '80s" songs was actually a near transcendent performance.
I don't know much about the inner workings of Squeeze, or why they ever broke up. But principal members Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook seemed to really enjoy playing together. And, like Dave Wakeling, seemed really happy to be there. They played every song from their amazing "best-of," Singles: 45's and Under with no sense of resentment. They played a lot of other songs also, but I can't think of one hit that they didn't play (except maybe "853-5937") and they seemed to have a great time doing it. One thing that struck me was how many great songs this band has. Another thing was what a good vocal combo Difford and Tillbrook are: Chris' high, clear voice is amazing, but when it's anchored by Glenn's deeper voice, it's such a great sound. Finally, I never knew what a badass guitarist Difford was, and he seemed to be having such a great time playing guitar.
I went by myself and just had a blast. I know there are cynics out there who will throw snark at a tour like this, but who cares what they say? If you love these songs, if you love well-constructed pop music, go see either of these bands.
As a footnote, I'll add that Bergen Performing Arts Center is a great place to see a show. It sounds great, and it's easy to get to, but get there early, parking is a big difficult.