While Glen Tilbrook is not exactly a household name, you couldn't tell that from the sing-along, request-shouting fans who filled Kansas City's Grand Emporium on Tuesday night for his solo act.
One of England's finest "new wave" exports was the pop-oriented band Squeeze. Led by songwriting partners Chris Difford and Tilbrook, Squeeze is perhaps best remembered for the hit single "Tempted," ironically not originally sung by lead vocalist Tilbrook.
With his youthful pop tenor still crystalline at age 44 and his guitar skills sharper than ever, Tilbrook performed a 27-song set that featured songs from his 2001 solo album, "The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook," and drew heavily from the best of Squeeze's catalog.
Nothing reveals a song like paring it down to one guitar and one voice. Songs including "Vicky Verky," "Piccadilly," "Another Nail For My Heart" and "Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)" all stood up well without a band behind them.
After a break, Tilbrook returned to serenade the audience with "Goodbye Girl."
The talkative troubadour prefaced a performance of Elvis Costello's "From A Whisper To A Scream," on which Tilbrook shared duet vocals by explaining that live he sings both parts unless, he joked, someone wanted to help him out. Surprisingly, a hand near the front of the stage went up, and the game singer shrugged and invited the brave volunteer to the stage. The young fan, identifying himself only as Brian, nailed the song and created a true rock 'n' roll moment.
Tilbrook closed the set with "Tempted" and didn't bother with the pantomime of departing the stage before performing a four-song encore comprised of "I've Returned," "Hourglass," "Parallel World" from the solo disc and "Is That Love."
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