Glenn Tilbrook – Live Review – Leeds Brudenell
By Victoria Holdsworth, June 2023
There was already a large crowd gathered outside in the sweltering heat at a sold out Brudenell for one of the most acclaimed songwriters of a generation, and a member of one of the most commercially successful bands that the UK has produced, Squeeze.
Whilst the crowd this evening is packed in tight, and looking curiously like a Darby and Joan Club, do not let the external veneers fool you. This lot gets wild after a few songs – and to deafening proportions.
The support this evening, and also acting as Tilbrook’s backing band, comes from South East London’s, Beautiful Landing. What better place could you kick start your warm up to Glastonbury than with your faithful following at one of the best venues in Yorkshire?
Glenn Tilbrook bounces onto the stage a little hurriedly with the band, looking very flushed with all the gusto of a holiday camp representative. The man has energy to burn.
As the crowd lets out a huge round of applause with rapturous cheers, he launches, a little shakily, into ‘By the Light of the Cash Machine’, and without missing a beat straight into tracks from the 2014 album, Happy Ending, full of trademark catchy little hooks and riffs. He seems to be slowly warming the crowd up, as well as his voice.
Taking a minute to catch his breath, Tilbrook has the crowd hanging on his every word as he thanks everyone for coming down. He genuinely looks shocked at just how many people are crammed in the main room, very up close and personal.
The unmistakable snare drum which kick starts ‘Happy Disposition’, from 2009’s Pandemonium Ensues, slowly builds to boiling point amidst some really mind bending southern blues guitar licks.
There’s not much chatting from Tilbrook between songs tonight, apart from the announcement of the song he will be playing next, but his audience don’t seem to mind, and when the opening few bars of the 1982 Squeeze classic, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ blast out, this crowd starts to get wild!
You can barely hear Tilbrook’s vocals over the participation, and most of the band is drowned out as the crowd produce more decibels than the sound system. It is unreal, and I swear you can see the G-force on Glenn Tilbrook’s face as he looks at his assemblage of admirers.
With the evening taking a turn from this point, the crowd lifting the main man, he hurtles into the very funky ‘Parallel World’ 2001’s solo effort, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook. The basslines on this song are insane, and very well slapped and funked out tonight, all wrapped up in a very accomplished performance from the band. This was a standout moment musically tonight, really showcasing just how gifted Tilbrook is both musically and lyrically.
There is such a special and very evident connection between Tilbrook and his fans, and they have stood by him through his various musical offerings whether it be solo or with other bands, such as The Fluffers.
‘Still’ is a very well-rounded track, again having a real blues feel to it. Tilbrook’s vocals are now at their optimum, and this is an absolute belter! His accent and vocal range against this rhythmical bass and guitar work is very striking to the ear.#
‘Is That Love’ once again sees the sound system being completely overtaken by everyone around me, and as the glasses are shaking behind the bar, the crowd just keeps getting louder.
Trying to quiet and calm things down a little, we are offered ‘Temptation For Love’, however Tilbrook doesn’t offer much respite to his crowd coming straight back at them with two absolute legendary Squeeze hits, ‘Another Nail In My Heart’ and ‘Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)’. The Brudenell is now at full throttle, with no signs of slowing down.
There’s a quick anecdote about how Squeeze were asked to play a recent 80’s festival because Adam Ant had pulled out, as he expertly covers Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’. Tilbrook eventually just gives up singing after the first few words, as everyone else takes over, so he just plays along and orchestrates the entire room, which is pretty special to watch.
The rest of the set sees some dusted off, much-loved Squeeze songs, however, having seen them also performed by Chris Difford, it is nice to hear the different takes they each have on them.
‘Some Fantastic Place’ see him give props to his fellow Squeeze songsmith, whom he seems to be getting on much better with these days.
‘Black Coffee In Bed’, the 1982 classic from the album Sweets From A Stranger leads into one of the most instantly recognisable songs in their back catalogue, and one of my personal favourites, ‘Tempted’. Whilst I prefer Difford’s solo version of this, it still brings the house down and is performed just as confidently, with an alternative dose of charisma.
‘Untouchable’ and ‘Goodbye Girl’ are a perfectly positioned in the set, before a very explosive ending.
‘Up The Junction’ and ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ blow the lid off the entire set that has gone before, with an aptly chosen encore of ‘One For The Road’ finishes off a 21 song pile-up of masterful music spanning generations.
It is evident from tonight’s performance that, after all these years, Glenn Tilbrook’s voice and lyrics are as captivating as ever – and that the man himself, like his fans, are not ready to slow down just yet.