Squeeze / Lightning Seeds – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Friday November 19.
Although their hit-making career spanned a full decade, Ian Broudie’s Lightning Seeds are perhaps most closely linked to Britpop’s golden age, which saw them enjoy their most sustained period of commercial success. Always an understated, undemonstrative band, they might not have generated the headlines of their brasher peers, but last night’s ably executed was stuffed full of instantly recognisable tunes and “oh, I’d forgotten this one” moments.
As such, they turned out to be an ideal warm-up act, who steadily won over the initially reserved audience. By the time we got to The Life Of Riley (named after Broudie’s son, now also a band member) and debut hit Pure, the whole of the stalls were up and dancing. “You’re such a lovely audience, we’d like to take you home with us”, quipped a beaming Broudie, quoting another Liverpudlian act of note.
Three years into their third incarnation as a working band, Squeeze are back on the road and touring a new album of re-recorded old material. Spot The Difference is both an attempt by the band to regain some ownership of their back catalogue, and a challenge to their fans to do exactly what the title suggests.
Just as the re-recordings seek to recreate the originals as faithfully as possible, the live performances don’t deviate greatly either. There might be an extended intro here, or a reworked middle eight there – to say nothing of a bizarre synth-pop coda to Goodbye Girl, complete with synchronised robotic dancing from the whole band – but essentially we were on familiar ground.
All the classics were wheeled out – Cool For Cats, Up The Junction, Labelled With Love – as well as a clutch of songs that have long felt like hits, even though they originally failed to make the Top 40: Black Coffee In Bed, Tempted, Pulling Mussels (From The Shell).
The eternally affable Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford were joined on stage by early Eighties bassist John Bentley, Tilbrook’s regular drummer Simon Hanson, and the best of all possible substitutes for the long-departed Jools Holland: the magnificent Steve Nieve, formerly of Elvis Costello’s Attractions. The fondness with which the set was received was perhaps best encapsulated in the words of one of their biggest hits: “the past has been bottled, and labelled with love”.
Set list: Black Coffee In Bed, Take Me I’m Yours, Annie Get Your Gun, Loving You Tonight, When The Hangover Strikes, Hope Fell Down, It’s So Dirty, Goodbye Girl, Slaughtered Gutted And Heartbroken, If It’s Love, Up The Junction, The Knack, Model, Labelled With Love, Someone Else’s Heart, Is That Love, Hourglass, Tempted, Cool For Cats, Slap And Tickle, Another Nail In My Heart, Pulling Mussels (From The Shell).