Photo by Rogan Macdonald

Christmas, don’t you just hate it? The traditional English family celebration of pretending to like all the crap presents, putting up with relatives that you only see once a year (there’s a reason for that) and getting wasted on weird drinks that would normally make you an object of pity in the pub with your mates.

And that’s another thing; pubs at Christmas. They’re full of people who go out once a year and have no idea how to behave. There aren’t many worse experiences than having your night trashed by the systems analysts from work out on their Christmas do. Hearing geeks talk loudly and drunkenly about computer games gets irritating really quickly (about 13 seconds is my current record) and that’s before they start on the flaming Sambucas. The licensed trade loves Christmas because people will drink anything; it’s a great way to shift all that stuff at the back of the spirit cupboard that seemed like a great idea at the summer trade fair. Read more

I’m not big on nostalgia gigs but sometimes you have to bend your own rules. When you get the chance to see the best songwriters of the 80s supported by one of the best songwriters of the 90s, it has to be worth a punt.

Some sections of the music press in the early 80s saw Squeeze songwriters Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford as the latest incarnation of Lennon and McCartney, with some justification. The early songs were scenes from Jack-the-lad territory in south-east London but as the band developed they moved on to more adult themes such as relationships and hangovers. In common with The Beatles, Difford and Tilbrook were self-taught which led to a less orthodox approach to chords and melody and gave their songs a very distinctive Squeeze sound.

On to Shepherds Bush Empire, November 2010. The Lightning Seeds open the bill with a tight greatest hits package which demonstrates Ian Broudie’s ability to write the perfect pop song. The set includes “Pure”, “Sugar Coated Iceberg”, “The Life of Riley” and a delicate, stripped down version of the classic Ronettes single “Be My Baby”. It’s a good set of great pop songs played well and the crowd appreciate it, but most of them are here for the main event. Read more