Saturday, 19 April 2008

Chris Difford/Boo Hewerdine @ Biddulph Town Hall. 18th April

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Simon Bamford

Although cold and very blustery outside, it was a warm and welcoming crowd gathered in Biddulph’s main civic building for to see singer/songwriter Boo Hewerdine, formerly of rock band The Bible and one-time guitarist with Eddie Reader; and Chris Difford, one half of Squeeze’s formidable Difford/Tilbrook songwriting team. Organised by The Biddulph ‘Up in Arms’ concerts, there was a heady air of high expectation in the packed auditorium.

Beginning the evening, Boo proved himself to be a personable entertainer and excellent guitarist. A ready wit, he interspersed his act with humorous stories, including a very funny tale involving American artiste Steve Earle which I had considered relating, but not really thinking it apt to possibly give the punchline away at this stage in his tour. Taking us through a string of songs from his career and his new album, he began with ‘Graceland’ (not the Paul Simon one) from his Bible days and gave a fine rendition of ‘Patience of Angels’ from his time with Eddie Reader, the audience joining in with a ready enthusiasm. Breaking a string during one number, he carried on by borrowing Chris Difford’s guitar, but returned to his now 5-stringed instrument for an up-tempo number about the coming of death that earned him resounding applause. His act full of quality self-penned compositions, he was most definitely a more than worthy contributor to the night’s proceedings.

Boo also featured in the second half when he played second guitar to Chris Difford and able accompanying singer Dorrie Jackson. Himself just as likeable as Boo, Difford also sprinkled his act with funny stories, mostly involving his contemporary, the somewhat vain Simon Le Bon, a person it would seem he good-humouredly does not hold in very high regard. Kicking off with Squeeze’s ‘Black Coffee in Bed’, his excellent lyrics were very much to the fore throughout his set and his newer songs proved that his skills as a wordsmith have far from diminished. ‘Fat as a Fiddle’ and ‘Battersea Boys’ from his new solo album were some of the highlights and a charming composition rather quirkily regarding the smell of his mother’s handbag was also received very well. It was the more familiar Squeeze songs that of course went down the best though and ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ brought a wave of nostalgic atmosphere that washed over everybody present. Chris himself observedly remarking that the hall was full of ‘people of a certain age’. Appearing to finish with ‘Up the Junction’, the three of them responded to the thunderous demand to return with another four songs, including ‘Cool for Cats’; rounding a satisfying evening off very nicely.

Before he left the stage, the Squeezeman remarked that it was very gratifying to see small communities such as Biddulph still putting themselves out to stage live music whenever they can. How right he is. Congratulations to all concerned and especially promotors The Biddulph Arms for a very fine night indeed.

No comments: