Tag Archive: Difford & Tilbrook

Difford & Tilbrook @ Town Hall, Birmingham – 12 November 2014

Tonight to the delectable Town Hall in Birmingham and a journey through the entertaining lives of two classic songsmiths. In the late 70s, early 80s the band that featured these guys turned out ht after hit – the lyrics such that these two individuals were deemed to be the Lennon and McCartney of their generation. The chap who played the keyboards tottered off on his own journey of ‘The Tube’ and ‘Later…’ and Jazz while the band became these core duo and a rotating shift of other musicians. And so for something different tonight, part Q&A, part acoustic trip through their music journey – welcome ‘The At Odds Couple – welcome Difford & Tilbrook.

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Difford & Tilbrook – the songwriting team of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, known for their work as the principal writers for Squeeze. Responsible for the group’s many hits -‘Cool for Cats’, ‘Up the Junction’, ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’, ‘Tempted’, and many more, they have both written independently outside the band and together – and tonight features solo, collaboration and band.

Difford & Tilbrook was also the name under which the songwriters recorded and toured following the temporary break-up of Squeeze in ’82. That band reunited in ’85 after only one self-titled album had been released from the pair. Having been issued during this brief three-year hiatus, many fans consider Difford & Tilbrook to be the “lost” Squeeze album. By ’93 Difford and Tilbrook were the only original members left in Squeeze, and the band continues to be whatever rotating band membership assembles around the two songwriters.

Tonight’s gig is sold out and there’s no support but we will be delivered two sets from the duo. The stage set, meanwhile, is set like a bedsit, tables, lampshades,chairs, beds, and in the centre a late screen. Cosy. This is a two man show – just acoustic – and as they start, they pretend to get out of bed before their journey starts…

Their lyrics are a take on life, what they see – the duo sing in perfect harmony- a insanely talented pair be these two. And they have THOUGHT about not only their songs, but the stage set up, the visuals and videos on the screen to accompany the songs. So many times, we see acts who just turn up on stage – this package, with Difford & Tilbrook’s music and audience engagement, plus the cosy set and respect for the classic historic hall and acoustics,  has been well planned and thought out – and is a more than a pleasure to see.

‘Electric Trains’ accompanied by sepia train line journey on the screen, ‘Is That Love’ gets a big cheer, newbie from new album for Squeeze (from a forthcoming TV show) ‘A Beautiful Game’  clearly related to ‘the beautiful game’ as we get football on the screen – and goes down well. A song they wore for K.D. Lang – which she didn’t like ‘cos out was about boys – ‘Cowboys are my Weakness’ gives a video of plastic toy soldiers, doing things that plastic toy soldiers really shouldn’t be doing.

Between every few songs we have ‘the Man in the Golden Cape’ – quite literally – as Miles appears in the audience with a mike for audience members to ask questions.

“Are you cool for cats?” and the pair respond – chalk and cheese one likes dogs and the other cats. “What favourite lyric was inspired by real life?” “Let It Go” comes the answer.
“Madison Square Gardens or Birmingham Town Hall?” –  well that answer had got to be Birmingham Town Hall. Some questions are cheeky “How did Jools (Holland – former keyboards with Squeeze) become really rich and you didn’t?” – and Difford & Tilbrook respond, as they do with all questions, with candour, whit and respect.  Tilbrook’s ditched is recent beard (he now carries it around in a bag!)

Being touted as the ‘South London Lennon and McCartney’ made then pretentious for a while, but it became meaningless after a while – although a compliment. A punter tells Tilbrook his last solo album was brilliant – and he takes the full opportunity to cheekily plug it – it’s in the foyer – they’ll be signing after the gig.

And we get the classics –  ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’ (which a fan, when she was young though was about snogging – the guys don’y want to delude her innocent thoughts about what it was actually about), the first set ends with ‘Up the Junction.’ ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ is here too, and the hits keep coming ‘Tempted’ – and the video shows us fruit – cos hey we be “tempted by the fruit of another” and we sing.

Difford solo slot includes ‘Fat as a Fiddle’ (he eludes to his weight – up and down – out of cheesecake v gym – the cheesecake always wins…), ‘Wrecked’ about his youth when him and his housemate spent most the time, it appears, wrecked. Tilbrook gives us ‘Persephone’ – a song about a Victorian dressed burlesque dancer he met at a festival, who was , er, quite entertaining; ‘Ice-cream’ apparently written and performed in Birmingham in 1906 by his grand-dad – easy lyrics we sing it back and laugh. And as Difford rejoins him on stage – he’s asked what he’s been doing – “I’ve been been Ironing. My shirt. For tomorrow.”

And to conclude – we get an acoustic version of ‘Coooooollllll for Caaaats’ – we sing – and watch the video – made up newspaper cuttings for key word of the song and ‘dodgy’ archive footage of Squeeze.   Bt it’s not over – another newbie from the TV Series – apparent the title too – “From the Cradle to the Grave’ before the classic ‘Labelled with Love.”

Difford and Tilbrook gave us a thoroughly enjoyable gig tonight – they may be ying and yang, chalk and cheese – but this ‘At Odds Couple’ made us laugh, made us smile, made us sing – and gave us a compete package on their potted piece of history in a thoroughly enjoyable way.  There’s a few dates left on this tour – thigh many have already sold out. If you get to see em you are lucky indeed as this gig was certainly labelled and bottled with love. Thank you chaps.

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.