Review of Glenn Tillbrook at St John's Church, Farncombe, November 7th 2018
Glenn Tillbrook’s solo performance in an atmospheric St John’s Church demonstrated a rare breadth of talent which was greatly appreciated by a sell-out audience. The writer of songs that are catchy and smart, he not only sings beautifully – his clear, distinctive voice seemingly untroubled by 40 years on the road – but also embellishes those songs with creative and dextrous guitar solos.
As part of Squeeze, the band he formed in the 1970s with Chris Difford and Jools Holland, Tillbrook has been responsible for many highly-acclaimed hit songs. The evening’s set also included selections from his own impressive back catalogue.
After a tolerably short opening set from his son Leon, Tillbrook senior bounds on stage to an enthusiastic reception, opening with the infectious ‘Ter-wit Ter-woo’, accompanied by his own acoustic guitar. ‘Do we roll? Yes we do’ he sings – and the audience is clearly in no mood to disagree. Squeeze songs are not forgotten and the audience particularly enjoy Up The Junction, the moving Labelled With Love and From the Cradle To The Grave, written for the recent TV series.
Switching to his Fender Telecaster, he makes a number of cover songs his own, including the Bacharach and David classic Always Something There To Remind Me. These preface more Squeeze songs, including Slap And Tickle and Pulling Mussels From The Shell, which enable us to appreciate the sheer inventiveness and fluidity of his solo guitar work. He closes with the mini-drama of a song that is Tempted.
As an encore, Tillbrook is re-joined by his son to perform an impressive version of the Fleetwood Mac classic, Oh Well. They are joined by the audience for two early Squeeze favourites, Take Me I’m Yours and Goodbye Girl. Did he roll? He most certainly did - raising funds for foodbank charity the Trussell Trust into the bargain.
As published in the Surrey Advertiser, 16.11.18
Photo by Peter Earle
Review of The Eskies, Friday 2nd November 2018, The Star Inn, Guildford. Published in the Surrey Advertiser, 16.11.18.
‘Tonight, all our songs are called Save the Star Inn', announces Ian Bermingham, lead singer of The Eskies. A sentiment shared by a full house, who danced, sang and swayed along with these talented purveyors of ‘sea-soaked gypsy folk’ at one of the last gigs to be held at the Star Inn before it is forced to close as a music venue.
Hailing from Dublin, the Eskies have spent the past few years touring Europe and Ireland, playing countless gigs and festivals and releasing two highly-acclaimed albums. As a result, we see a confident, exuberant performance which grabs the audience by the lapels from the opening song and doesn’t let go. Front man Bermingham has real star quality, with an engaging sense of humour and a strong voice which enables him to sing without the aid of a microphone during quiet passages.
The Eskies are living proof that folk music may well be the new rock and roll. Their stirring, well-crafted songs crackle with emotion, intelligence and wit, displaying influences that range from traditional folk to gypsy jazz, sea shanties and more. They were performed with energy, swagger and great musicianship in a set which ranged from the humour of I’m Not Sorry and the infectious Fever to the darkness of Jesus Don’t Save Me and Tear Along The Line, closing with the rousing Wild, Wild Heart and the driving rhythm of Jailhouse Sun.
If there is any justice in this world, the Eskies will be a headline act by next Summer – and the Star Inn will be able to re-open as a music venue. If this is the case, I look forward to a well-deserved return from tonight’s support act, Huw Eddy and the Carnival.
287 words. Written for Surrey Advertiser (published 16.11.18)
Words: Mark Beasley (email@example.com)
Pictures – taken by Mark Beasley.
NOTE TO EDITOR
The Star Inn is being forced to close as a music venue by Guildford Borough Council as the result of a complaint about potential noise by a property developer who bought neighbouring offices, which are being converted into flats. The Star Inn has been a music, theatre and comedy venue for many years. Council leader Paul Spooner pledged his support but has been unable to resolve the situation to date. 30,000 people so far have signed a petition, at www.saveourstar.pub
A review of Chris Difford. St John's Church Farncombe, May 11th, 2018
It’s a long way from Madison Square Gardens, where he has performed a number of times, but St John’s Church provided an intimate and atmospheric setting for Chris Difford’s entertaining and confessional one-man show.
As an award-winning songwriter and co-founder of the band Squeeze, Difford has made a lasting contribution to English music over the past 40 years, building a reputation as a clever lyricist and co-writer of many hit records and albums. His current tour is to promote his autobiography, Some Fantastic Place, and it is from this book that the night’s anecdotes were drawn.
From a childhood spent on a south-east London council estate to his success as a rock star and problems with relationships and alcohol, the stories are honest, witty and often raw. Highlights included the postcard in a shop window that led to the formation of Squeeze, early experiences with girls, embarrassing encounters with celebrities and the many support acts who subsequently became more famous than Squeeze – such as Woking’s The Jam. As he said when tuning his guitar, ‘I used to have staff to do this’.
Backed by his own acoustic guitar and Melvin Duffy on pedal steel guitar, Difford performed a number of Squeeze hits, such as Cool for Cats, Take Me I’m Yours and Up the Junction. The audience joined in throughout, to his evident pleasure. A number of his solo songs were also played: the moving Battersea Boys, based on the life of a man he met in a hospice, was particularly memorable.
In support, Kent-based trio, Arcelia, sang their own well-crafted songs, beautifully and with immaculate harmonies. They also provided back-up towards the end of Difford’s set, notably on the emotional Some Fantastic Place - an apt description of St John’s Church on this highly entertaining evening.
(300 words. As published in the Surrey Advertiser.)