When Squeeze’s songwriting engine, powered by Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, spluttered to a halt in 1999 after an eventful 25-year journey, there was never any question what the former would do. He jumped on to his solo vehicle with gusto, driving into the distance, relishing his new-found freedom.
Over the past nine years Glenn has toured the world constantly, wowing audiences with his down-to-earth, impassioned style. A night watching Glenn performing alone is not like watching any other British solo artist. You see, no-one else involves his audience in the way that Glenn does. Welcoming his crowd with his customary greeting of “Alright, loves?” Glenn establishes an immediate rapport with every audience he encounters, from Tokyo to Texas.
Playing in intimate venues allows Glenn to indulge in one of his favourite musical pastimes – blurring the role of performer and fan. During his shows Glenn will often leap into the crowd and take on the role of modern day Pied Piper. As Glenn becomes part of his own audience, the paying customer joins in the act, taking on the guise of designated backing vocalist. Leading his audience on a tour of the venue Glenn will, on occasion, guide them onto the street outside, much to the bemusement of passing locals. He’s even been known to walk his audience into the gents’ toilets, much to the shock of the ‘movers and shakers’ pointing Percy at the porcelain.
Glenn’s walkabouts are quite a sight to behold, often worth the entrance fee alone. If you don’t believe me, take a look at Amy Pickard’s lauded documentary ‘One for the Road’, which follows Glenn round the US in his not entirely reliable Winnebago. In one clip Glenn walks his devotees to a fan’s house, strumming and singing as he goes, before setting up a gig in the living room. The looks of astonishment on the faces of those in Glenn’s portable audience say it all.
Glenn’s solo performances contain a mixture of Squeeze numbers and tracks from his highly-acclaimed solo albums, 2001’s ‘The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook’ and ‘Transatlantic Ping Pong’, released in 2004.
So, if you ever dreamed of being a member of your own band, do your vocal exercises, get along to one of Glenn’s solo shows, and join his Lonely Hearts Club Band for the night. You’ll make The Polyphonic Spree look a bunch of amateurs.
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