Glenn Tilbrook - Union Chapel, Islington
This was a great gig and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You have to be brave to sing in front of any audience with just a guitar. I have a great deal of respect for the buskers who do that every day in London, but some of them are a bit shit. So for all the shit buskers out there - this is the benchmark. Glenn Tilbrook is how you do, 'man with guitar sings songs,' properly.
Glenn Tilbrook – Union Chapel, Islington, London. Wednesday 15th December 2016.
I was slightly nervous about returning to Union Chapel in Islington so soon after my last run-in with God, but a mostly acoustic solo set from Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze was too good an opportunity to miss.
I figured God had forgiven my previous comments. There was no thunder or lightening as I entered the chapel, so I breathed a sigh of relief and settled into my pew to listen to a support set from Steve Smith (Dirty Vegas). He looked similar to Tilbrook from a distance, but thankfully played different songs or my mind could’ve been blown right there and the only one laughing would have been God.
Steve delivered some good acoustic girlfriend angst. Unfortunately his eyes were mainly closed and I find it hard to connect with live music when I can’t see where it’s coming from. He would’ve been impressive with a backing band but I’m just not sure he cracked it with one acoustic guitar in the Union Chapel. On the night I found it a bit overly strummy and thin.
Glenn Tilbrook had the same set structure – man with guitar sings songs – but a very different output. From the start Tilbrook made it clear he would be showing us his chops and not just strumming a few old Squeeze tunes. His solo guitar work on ‘The Truth (is not my middle name)’ was excellent. Here was a man not afraid to work the fretboard on an acoustic guitar. It’s one thing to rip up the neck on an electric guitar, but to do it effectively on an acoustic is worthy of note.
Tilbrook brought his 13 year old son, Leon, onto the stage for a few numbers and it was great to see the mantle being handed down. Their cover of ‘Oh Well’ would have brought a wry smile to Peter Green’s face – it worked well on the acoustics and you could see hours of father and son practice in the arrangement.
The set list included a variety of alternative Tilbrook tracks and covers. ‘Genitalia of a Fool’ was clever, funny and well delivered. His solo version of ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’ was the best I’ve heard and the switch to electric telecaster at this point was effective.
But we were really all gathered in the chapel to hear the old Squeeze tunes and Tilbrook didn’t disappoint. ‘Take me I’m yours’, ‘Annie get your gun’, ‘Labelled with love’ – they all had the distinctive, familiar Tilbrook tone – and a lot of lyrics. It has to be said, he delivers a storyline very well, even in a live environment. The perfect example was ‘Up The Junction’. It’s still such a good song, complete with the audience riffing on the chorus and anywhere else we could fit it in. ‘Cradle to the Grave’ was another great Tilbrook delivery. It must be comforting to have those great tunes in the bag when you’re standing up there by yourself. I’m not sure Tilbrook fully appreciates the scale of what he’s achieved because he kept moving quickly onto the next tune. He should pause and bask in the glory a little more.
This was a great gig and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You have to be brave to sing in front of any audience with just a guitar. I have a great deal of respect for the buskers who do that every day in London, but some of them are a bit shit. So for all the shit buskers out there – this is the benchmark. Glenn Tilbrook is how you do, ‘man with guitar sings songs,’ properly.
Future tour dates and album details/downloads are available from Glenn’s website.