Indigo2 – smaller sibling to the gargantuan O2 Arena on Greenwich Peninsula, and with a capacity roughly one-tenth of it – has to be my favourite venue in the capital, if not the country.
Compact, with a tiered standing area affording a decent view from anywhere you stand, and a great sound system compared to boomier larger venues, it is perfect for bands of the size and ilk of Squeeze.
The new wave stalwarts are celebrating 45 years in the business with this, ‘The Difford and Tilbrook Songbook Tour’, with lead songwriters Chris and Glenn the only two remaining original members, now surrounded by an adroit motley crew of musicians to comprise the 2019 incarnation of the band.
As they take to the stage one by one, to the roar of a sell-out sozzled Friday night crowd well warmed up by support act Heaven 17, a big screen at the back of the stage flashes into life with some colourful imagery but then just as suddenly switches off as if a malfunction has occurred. It’s the only disappointment of the evening as I’d heard there was some great backdrop footage illustrating earlier dates on the tour so this was indeed an untimely tech glitch.
Not that it mattered too much, amid the ensuing barrage of infectious pop gems which littered the singles chart from the late 70s through most of the 80s, with bangers ‘Hourglass’, ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’ and ‘Up the Junction’ gotten out of the way surprisingly early.
There are a few tracks from their 15-album back catalogue that have never before been performed live until this tour, not least ‘King George Street’ which Tilbrook tells us they hadn’t played onstage since its initial release 34 years ago.
Other setlist highlights were, firstly, the bouncing and Beatlesesque ‘Cradle to the Grave’ – title track of their eponymous 2015 album – and then a sublime rendering of Cool For Cats, with Difford replicating his trademark baritone patter while swathes of the crowd bounced in unison.
Meanwhile it was amazing to behold that Tilbrook’s vocals don’t seem to have suffered at all in the passing decades – he may well have filled out a bit physically but the high notes were never a problem. The lead guitar work and solos were likewise still top drawer.
The only other reportable moment was a punch-up in the crowd which the band had to stop for, during the pre-encore ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, Difford admonishing “None of that, not at our gigs” before stewards arrived to deal with it.
That late blip aside, most of the crowd left contented by what they’d seen: a tight and efficient set of the best hook-laden numbers in the band’s armoury, the standard of which is so underratedly high even Rolling Stone magazine have labelled Difford and Tillbrook as the Lennon and McCartney of their generation.
One may baulk at such a lofty appraisal but, on the evidence of tonight’s retrospective, I don’t know who else would come as close to it.
For tickets to other live shows by Squeeze and other events at the Indigo 2 try the See Tickets contact number