When Glenn Tilbrook came to Norfolk last June, he was bumped from the Norva to the New Belmont at the last minute because Melissa Etheridge couldn’t play Portsmouth’s Pavilion due to roof problems. It worked out well---Tilbrook and his band put on one of the best rock concerts of the year in the restaurant’s cozy confines.
Tilbrook is coming to Virginia Beach this time around. He and his band the Fluffers kick off a six-week American tour at the Jewish Mother Thursday night, and for fans of solid, melodic, hard-driving rock’n’roll, it’s a show not to be missed. These guys have a great time and Tilbrook is a master showman.
Glenn Tilbrook, in case you don’t remember, was one-half of the songwriting team that made the band Squeeze such an album rock favorite in the 1980s. In those days, critics compared him and his compositional companion Chris Difford with that great British songwriting team from the 1960s, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. His is the voice you heard on most of the group’s best known songs, like “Hourglass,” “Black Coffee in Bed,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell).”
As he approaches his 48th birthday, Tilbrook has lost none of the cheeky humor that populated the songs he and Difford wrote together, and he’s still making smart, sophisticated pop-rock music while plying his trade in venues of various sizes around the world. Last year’s Transatlantic Ping Pong shows he’s still got the goods, and the live show reinforced his place in the pantheon of middle aged rockers whose music still deserves an audience.
Song titles like “Genitalia of a Fool” and “Hot Shaved Asian Teens” illustrate his comment to me last year, “I take music and songwriting very seriously. But I don’t take myself very seriously.” But the heartbreaking ballad, “Domestic Distortion,” reveals a man able to look inside himself and admit his own failings and sadness, in spite of his joker mask.
Tilbrook’s current backing band, the Fluffers---Stephen Large on the keys, Lucy Shaw on bass and Simon Harrison on drums---is one tight, cookin’ ensemble. And if last year’s Norfolk appearance is a predictor, Thursday night’s at the Jew Mom will be packed with a mix of songs both old and new.
As he told me then, “I don’t draw a line between Squeeze and what I’m doing now. As far as I’m concerned, it’s my life and career and I’ll dip into any part of it.”
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