Photo by Steve Cross.
For more photos, check out the slideshow at nashvillescene.com.
It seems the case these days that most newly reformed bands of yesteryear—or in some cases, the-never-stopped-rocking acts we still almost forgot about—opt for the nostalgia scene in venues like the Wildhorse Saloon. While the Wildhorse is hardly a bad spot by any means, watching Hanson officially play the same stage as REO Speedwagon, doesn’t quite have the same effect as seeing your classic faves at the Ryman. So we were extra pleased to hear that’s where Squeeze was taking their latest reunion tour last night.
A series of miscommunications and mix-ups concerning our press credentials kept us from seeing all but three Aimee Mann numbers. Only one of which we recognized, as it was one of her contributions to the Magnolia soundtrack, but we were among the ignorant few. Mann had drawn a sizable flock of her own who applauded each song upon recognizing its intro. Like the headliner, Mann also cut her teeth on new wave in the early ’80s, but anyone expecting to hear ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” (e.g. the guy behind us) was greeted only with Mann’s more contemporary, sleepy, country-tinged folk ballads.
Thank the baby Jesus we got things straightened out in time to catch the newly re-formed Squeeze—featuring, for the first time since 1984, both the band’s principal songwriters, Glenn Tillbrook and Chris Difford. As always when catching an established, re-formed, semi-legendary band, a part of us groaned at the thought of sitting through “the new material” to hear our favorite cuts (in this case, stuff from Argybargy). But had we done our homework, we’d have known sooner that this isn’t that kind of tour. Tillbrook assured us in his own words, “We’re our own greatest tribute band,” as the band sailed through a survey of their expertly crafted new wave pop gems of yesterday. While the Ryman was far from a full house, what the crowd lacked in mass, it compensated for with unwavering vehemence. Crowd pleasers like Cool for Cats’ “Up the Junction” and “Revue” got a few asses out of their seats and wiggling accordingly.
By the time Squeeze laid out their best-known hit, “Tempted,” the confines of the venue’s signature church pews had been officially compromised and a baby boomer dance party had erupted in front of the stage. Almost as entertaining as the band was the sight of the Ryman’s geriatric security staff attempting to reign this crowd in. Hence, you can imagine what kind of ruckus ensued when they broke out former club faves like “Slap and Tickle” and “Cool for Cats.” The obligatory encore cry actually got a little scary as showgoers stomped and screamed for a good two minutes before the band came back out to a standing ovation. They hit us hard with an extended “Slap and Tickle” jam, and in case anyone was questioning their money’s worth, a closing rendition of “Pulling Mussels (From a Shell)” surely ensured them the extra cash they spent on the good seats was well worth it.