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Squeeze and The Psychedelic Furs Are Memorable in Music City

by Rich and Laura Lynch

It's hard to believe that I first saw Squeeze in concert over four decades ago at The Fountain Casino in Aberdeen, New Jersey. My sister Ann accompanied me and drove me to that show and the fact that she passed away only a week ago made their much-anticipated appearance at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, September 17, 2023 along with The Psychedelic Furs a bit bittersweet as memories of that night came flooding back to my mind.

Squeeze at the Grand Ole Opry House in 2023.

I remember that we almost got lost on our way there in the days before GPS following a traffic delayed trek down the Garden State Parkway. I also had to fight my way in to the venue because being a junior in high school apparently didn't meet the minimum age requirement. But, when I saw another family pass through the door with their pre-teen son I pled my case and we were in to witness what would be one of Squeeze's final shows before breaking up for the first time in 1982.

Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook - still doing their thing.

Squeeze would quickly reform in 1983 but it would soon become common knowledge that aside from the mainstays of their songwriting duo of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook the band would be filled out by a revolving door of members even to this day. Their lineup in Nashville featured keyboardist Stephen Large and drummer Simon Hanson both fixtures in the band since the second reformation in 2007 joined by percussionist/backing vocalist Steve Smith (since 2017) along with pedal/lap steel guitarist Melvin Duffy (since 2019) and Mid-Tenn's Owen Biddle, formerly of The Roots on bass (since 2020). Based on their performance one could argue that this is their most powerful and dynamic grouping so far. It certainly is their largest configuration and they did a lovely job presenting the back catalog that included a strong mix of fan favorites, radio hits and deep cuts throughout their fast-paced 75-minute showcase.

Stephen Large is living large as the longest tenured keyboardist in the history of Squeeze.

For the large gathering of fans in attendance this double billing also provided a means to travel back in time to the early days of the Reagan era when both these acts were beginning to reach the peak of their commercial success and the world was a seemingly happier and safer place. In a time before the Internet and the looming prospects of globalism both of these bands represented London lifestyle and a caricature of U.K. culture filtered through a punk and new wave styled musical palette that was being absorbed and adored via the MTV revolution by a willing mass of adherents a generation ago. And for as much as things have changed these two acts have lasted to emerge even bigger today than they were in their heyday on the strength and enduring quality of their exquisite songs.

Melvin Duffy, Simon Hanson, Owen Biddle and Steve Smith in Nashville.

Squeeze's set drew heavily from their first four records opening with the always intoxicating "Take Me I'm Yours" followed quickly by the mesmerizing chorus featured in "Hourglass". An early inclusion of "What Have They Done?" from the Where the Wind Blows soundtrack made it clear that war in the Ukraine and continued specter of a potential nuclear holocaust is on the aging rockers minds at the moment. But, it was mostly all upbeat fun provided by the affable showmanship of Tilbrook and the warm welcoming presence of Mr. Difford as many more good time hits followed. When they played "Annie Get Your Gun" - my sister's favorite Squeeze tune for obvious reasons - my thoughts turned to her again and I can only hope she is in "Some Fantastic Place" today after succumbing to a long illness. One thing is for sure though - Squeeze is in a fantastic place presently and that is the truth. Word is that they plan to record two new albums when this tour wraps up in mid-October. So, we haven't seen the last of them yet.

Mars Williams and Richard of Butler The Psychedelic Furs.

In the opening slot The Psychedelic Furs made sure that they themselves were also very memorable by presenting 18 cinematic pieces that shined brightly courtesy of a great mix from the back of house inside the Grand Ole Opry. Vocalist Richard Butler and his bass-wielding brother Tim led the way with Mars Williams on saxophone receiving most of the evenings adoration for his classy and flawless contributions to the soundtrack of The Furs. And, just in case anyone forgot why this band were the darlings of college and alternative radio back in the day their parade of major hits including "Love My Way," "Pretty In Pink," "Heaven," "The Ghost In You," and "Heartbreak Beat" provided immediate relief from any potential cognitive decline. We only hope both bands can return to the area soon with more great musical medicine in tow.

Tim Butler and company hold it down for the Music City faithful.

Related Links: For more information on SQUEEZE & THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Squeeze | The Psychedelic Furs | Opry House


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