Glenn Tilbrook

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Four stars

Graeme Thomson

IT sounds incongruous, but the calibre of Glenn Tilbrook’s intimate solo show is epitomised by the material he deems surplus to requirements. There’s no room tonight for Is That Love, Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) or Some Fantastic Place, gems in the Squeeze songbook all, yet you miss them only in retrospect, long after the dapper man in the powder blue suit has lead us through 40 years’ worth of wonderfully idiosyncratic music making.

It helps that Tilbrook appears to have pulled off the vocal equivalent of Dorian Grey’s portrait in the attic. At 60, his pipes remain sweet and strong, while his guitar playing is impressively fluid.

With minimal accompaniment – a small amp, one microphone, two guitars and around 200 backing singers of variable quality – he strolls through a combination of Squeeze hits and album tracks, solo material, and a couple of covers. The classic Up The Junction remains a cascading kitchen-sink drama even when stripped back to acoustic guitar, while Cradle To The Grave, the title track of Squeeze’s 2015 comeback album, is a reminder that Tilbrook and his partner Chris Difford haven’t lost the knack of writing catchy songs which resonate with their evolving circumstances.

It’s a relaxed, good-natured 90 minutes. Tackling Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well and his own Chat Line Larry, Tilbrook reinvents himself as a South London bluesman, reeling off a series of dazzling licks. Deft, soulful renditions of Tempted and Black Coffee In Bed prowl the same waterfront. Following a spirited tear through Bacharach & David’s Always Something There To Remind Me, Tilbrook invites a guitar-playing super-fan to join him on stage for Another Nail In My Heart and Take Me, I’m Yours. The pair of them have a blast. They’re not the only ones.