Music review: Squeeze, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

A QUICK glance at the crowd might have suggested that wry, mid-70s-formed London punk-pop prototypes Squeeze are a nostalgia act these days, one who cultivate an audience who are more or less their own age, and who get by largely on the basis of past glories. If that's your impression of the group, however, you're strongly advised to take in one of their shows.

Squeeze PIC: Rob O'Connor
Squeeze PIC: Rob O'Connor

Squeeze, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****

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The crowd-pleasing likes of Pulling Mussels (From the Shell), Cool For Cats and Tempted may be what gets their foot in the door of concert halls like this, but it’s their continuing relevance which makes Squeeze unexpectedly thrilling. And although the players around them may have changed over the years, there’s also something special about seeing singer Glenn Tilbrook and guitarist Chris Difford still sharing a stage together.

Their six-piece band’s sound is versatile and mature, featuring horns and piano, but the pair remain endearingly boyish, in person and in song. When Tilbrook sings the yearning Up the Junction, we can still hear the romance-stricken young man it tells of in his voice; yet their recentCradle to the Grave (2015) and especially this year’s The Knowledge draw a bold and audible line between that youth and the questioning men they have growninto.

From the latter record, they champion the NHS on A&E, look back to youthful musical tastes on Albatross, and – most effectively of all – scorn the legacy of unaffordable housing and austerity which their generation has left their children. Anyone who experiences them will know this band remain essential for all the same reasons they always were.