I asked 100 people who they hated more, Ted Bundy or Sting. An
overwhelming 94 people said they hated Sting more. (OK, I really
didn't do that.) But after seeing Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford,
more commonly known as Squeeze, put on one of the greatest shows of
the year on Friday night at NYC's Beacon Theatre, the same night Mr.
"Stick-Up-His-Butt" was doing his "thing" with "his" band a few blocks
south for more than twice the price with less than half the joy at
NYC's Madison Square Garden, I couldn't help but think, "It really is
very easy to dislike Sting."
I also can't help but think as I write this, "You didn't even go to
The Police concert. How do you know it was less than half as good as
the Squeeze show?" Well, I asked 100 people if they thought I would
know that the Police concert was less than half as good as the Squeeze
show even if I didn't attend the show, and an overwhelming 97 said,
yes I would. (OK, also not true.)
How's this for an appealing invitation? "3 guys who hate each other,
one of which hasn't played rock and roll for 25 years, will be
performing the identical set of music, every night, strictly for the
money. Come on down, it's only $600 for a pair of tickets." Why would
you want to go to this party? This is NOT rock and roll. This is a
soulless event created to suck the life and money out of innocent
music lovers. Which is not to say I didn't get a bit sweaty upon
hearing the announcement earlier this year. I live in NYC and that, in
recent years, has also become a soulless event created to suck the
life and money out of innocent people. I have no intention of leaving,
so why not see The Police? Makes sense to me.
Now I didn't start out feeling this way about The Police, or Mr.
Sting for that matter. Let the record show, I am a fan of both. Big
fan. "Outlandos D'Amour" is an absolute classic. "Ten Summoner's
Tales" is a high point in Mr. Sting's solo career, and one of my
favorite releases of the 90's. But as usual, unnecessary hype and
stupid amounts of money ruin everything for me. And then there's the
story of how Mr. Sting invited some friends to a swanky restaurant for
dinner, but brought his own chef so he wouldn't have to eat what
everyone else was eating. You can read about that here. That shouldn't taint the
brilliance of "Message In A Bottle" or "Every Breath You Take," but it
does ... for me. The majority of the arena crowd will see three men singing
and playing their hits. I will be hearing "The Bed's Too Big Without
You," but all I will see is Sting sitting by himself, eating his
steamed sandabs and watercress, while his friends secretly wish they
could force-feed him a pastrami sandwich.
I tried for tickets the day they went on sale, and was unhappy with
the few I was able to pull from everyone's favorite extortionist,
Ticketmaster. I gave up immediately, realizing I just didn't care
enough, and probably less than the band themselves.
I don't want to make this a "Let's All Hate The Police" diatribe,
because as I said earlier, I don't. (Although Sting does deserve a
lengthy noogie. Definition here.) Let's talk about Squeeze and their
quiet return to the concert world.
What made Squeeze's performance this past Friday so special had as
much to do with the fun they were having on stage as it did with the
fun we were having as spectators. During the band's time apart, lead
singer and co-founder Glenn Tilbrook never stopped playing. If he
wasn't out on the road with his solo band, he was busking in pubs,
train stations and street corners. A lot of the time, his payment was
a few pints of ale and whatever was thrown into the tip jar. He did
this happily for many years. He just needed to play.
Chris Difford, the brilliant lyricist and John Lennon to Tilbrook's
Paul McCartney, didn't deal with the Squeeze break up as well.
Suffering from bouts of depression and years of alcoholism, Difford
performed infrequently and never made his desire to reform Squeeze a
secret. It seems now that those troubles are behind them.
The Beacon Theatre was shaking for 90 plus minutes. Squeeze was a
band that wanted to be there as much as the audience. And as they
treated the sold out room to one pop gem after another, not to mention
some deeper album tracks like "I'm Think I'm Go Go" from the classic
release "Argybargy" and "Walk Away" from the 1995 release
"Ridiculous," Difford & Tilbrook (one of most underrated or more
accurately under acknowledged guitar players in the game) danced and
laughed and jumped and danced some more.
This WAS a rock and roll show for the fans. If Squeeze were in it
strictly for the money, they were kind enough to not let on to the
elated fans that were thrilled to be in their presence, unlike Sting,
Andy and Stewart who I've been told, barely look at each other on
Hey Sting, thanks for getting back together just for us! Next time,
leave your instruments at home and we'll just write you a check. From
what I've been told from more than a few people, that's about as warm
as the performance made them feel.
As for Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, better known as Squeeze -- if
they are coming to your town, stop by and say hello. It'll cost you
$100, but you'll leave feeling like a million.