Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D

The last time I was this excited about Star Wars was in 1977.  The queues had gone around the cinema and even as a child I knew it was something special.  My gran took me and it was the first time I experienced another world.  Today there were no queues around the block anymore.  With multiplex screens they can show the film to many more people than back in 1977, but the sense of excitement was still the same.

To experience it properly I booked tickets to see it in IMAX 3D.  As soon as the screen opened with the story and that legendary music, I was emotional.  Would it live up to my expectations?

The story covers a disheartened Stormtrooper called Finn (played by John Boyega) who doesn’t agree with the First Order and their slaughter of innocents.  He meets up with Poe and they escape together only to crash again later.

Meanwhile Poe’s droid (who contains a key part of a map to the location of Luke Skywalker) meets Ray, a scavenger played by Daisy Ridley, who likes the droid and after rescuing him allows him to hang around with her.  

When Finn’s plane crashes he cannot find Poe but only his jacket so he puts it on and it’s not long before he bumps into Ray and the droid.  Pretending to be from the resistance they steal a ship to get off Jakku.  This ship is the Millennium Falcon.  Of course Star Wars fans already know this.

It is exciting when Han Solo makes his entrance alongside Chewbacca.  He is just as loveable as we remember.  And again when we see Princess Leia – although she is now General Leia rather than a princess.  Poor Carrie Fisher has moved on from a gold bikini to a dull boiler suit.  

The First Order are styled very much on Hitler and the Third Reich.  The flags, the hats, even the way they deliver a speech.  A key player in the First Order is Kylo Ren, who is torn between the darkside and the light.  Sound familiar?

There are many similarities between this film and Star Wars IV – A New Hope, I especially noticed the bar scene comparisons.  This film is full of action and lots of everything you love about Star Wars.  I will not tell you too much of the story otherwise it will be spoilers but this film works because you have all three original main characters (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia played by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher respectively).  These are key to the film as it’s really aimed at people like me.  People who saw and loved Star Wars IV – A New Hope back in 1977.  They are hoping we bring our kids – we buy the merchandise – and share the love of Star Wars for future generations.

I am pleased and grateful to say the audience I shared this experience with were quiet and respectful.  There was no talking.  No popcorn crunching.  No chair kicking.  No irritated children.  It was bliss.  Maybe parents don’t want to spend almost £20 a ticket to a child who doesn’t love it?  Whatever the reasons I was grateful to be immersed into the film.

Did I laugh?  Yes. Did I cry?  Absolutely.  Did it have action?  Undoubtedly.  Should you go and see it?  Without a doubt.  This film is the stuff of legends.



Sunday, 6 December 2015

Is The Clothes Show still in Vogue?

The Clothes Show was a hugely successful TV show in the 1980’s.  It was so successful that they turned it into a live annual event.  The Clothes Show is no longer screened but The Clothes Show Live has grown and developed into a huge pilgrimage for all shoppers.

For someone who was there at one of the first Clothes Show Live events and watched the TV show avidly during those early years; I can honestly say I am a veteran of shopping.  I still strut like I’m on a catwalk every time I hear that iconic tune by the Pet Shop Boys.  So of course I go every year to  The Clothes Show Live and adore it.  It’s a place where you can get the most up to date clothes, see couture up close and new and upcoming designers.  Of course there is also a huge make-up section and the best part is the catwalk show.
So I ask you…do you want £75 of make-up for £10?  Do you want to find unusual pieces that no one else will be wearing?  Do you want to wear high fashion before it hits the shops?  Do you want to see an amazing show of dancers and models strutting their stuff?  Of course you do!

However this year I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.  Here are my reasons why.

1.    The tickets are going up each year but we only seem to be offered deals such as 3 for 2 after we have already bought the tickets.  There is no reward for loyalty for those like me who go each year and they have stopped the deals of getting something free with the tickets (for example I have previously had free eye lashes with the tickets)

2.    The floor this year was much smaller than previous years.  It did not extend as big as in previous years and the stalls had much more space in between them.  This meant not as much choice as previous years.

3.    The stall holders were complaining of how much it costs to have a stall.  One stall holder told me it was £350 per square foot.  That’s a lot of product that needs to sell if they want to keep returning each year.

4.    It wasn’t that crowded.  I personally like that but worry that if the stall holders do not make their money back – even less will apply to come next year and The Clothes Show will slowly die.

5.    This year there was no couture section and the designer section was rather poor.  Although the university section is always popular I do think it is not an appeal to most of the general public

6.    Many ‘famous’ people attend such as Joey Essex and some internet sensations.  I am sure this is great for those of a younger generation but for serious shoppers like me I wish that they would keep a corner of the floor for them rather than having to fight through crowds of screaming kids..

I am a dedicated follower of The Clothes Show and the pièce de résistance is always the show.  This year they did excel themselves.  Each year there is a theme and this year the theme was The Empires.  What a show!  It felt like Star Wars meets Divergent with a bit of The Hunger Games thrown in for good measure!  The fashions are everything you grow to expect and want to see at a catwalk.  And it’s not just models.  These people can not only strut along a catwalk but dance too.  Forget Strictly – this is pure class.  It really did make up for some of the disappointment of this year’s event.
Will I be going next year?  Probably.  But I do hope it pulls its socks/stockings/flares (input what is in vogue here) next year.  It is in need of a review if it wants to survive instead of milking everyone for money.  We are not just buying a ticket – but an experience.  Please Clothes Show – deliver us our dream shopping experience and I will be first in the queue.



Thursday, 26 November 2015

China Crisis play OAD!

I have to confess I don’t really know China Crisis well.  Okay okay. Not at all.  But as a darkling and regular to the Only After Dark I was going along as it was the last club night of the year.

Unusually for OAD, the night started earlier than expected as China Crisis were due on at 9.30pm.  I bumped into Gary before he started the show and he asked about the club.  ‘Do people dress up?’ he asked me.  I just stood there with my hand on my hip and said ‘whatdya think?’  ‘Yes I did notice’ he said.  What a nice down to earth guy I thought.  And actually that sums up Eddie and Gary pretty nicely.  They are both decent guys who spent the whole night interacting with the crowd, offering a meet and greet with photos and chatting and signing with each person.

Musically they are very talented.  Their songs are like eating a cupcake with icing on it.  A real pleasure.  They played a range of their well-known songs including Black Man Ray, African and White, Working with fire and steel, Christian, Wishful Thinking and King in a Catholic Style.  They also a few tracks from their new album including Fool and Autumn in the neighbourhood.  They also did a fantastic cover of the Carol King song, It’s too late.  And as it was founder of the Only After Dark Club’s birthday, they did a special request for David with Arizona Sky.  

What made this gig special is Gary and Eddie’s engaging personalities.  They are funny and love to interact with the audience.  In such a small venue it feels personal as if they are talking straight at you.  Gary made a comment about how he moved his mike a few inches to the left as he could see his reflection and it looked like his dad singing back at him.  In his head he is still young and cool.  Well Gary you do look good and I really enjoyed his unique dancing style. I do love unique.  The rest of the night was full of great music and the dance floor was full all night.  Only After Dark is a unique club where the weird and wonderful meet.  And I am proud to say I am one of them. If unique is what you look for – you may want to come and join us Darklings.

If you want to know more about Only After Dark, please join the Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/227889111357/
More Photos can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasminestormie/albums/72157659176688084

Photo of me and China Crisis published with kind permission from Stage Dive Photography.





Tuesday, 17 November 2015

New Order Live at O2 Brixton Academy 16 November 2015

New Order has been steeped in controversy for years.  They have an unusual and unprecedented following of a unique fan base comprising of fans of Joy Division who love the guitar riffs as well as core New Order fans who loved Hacienda and dance music. It is hard to explain the genre that New Order cover but most would say it’s electronic.  It is the division of fans that often still raises the argument questioning if is it really New Order without Hooky?  Peter Hook left the band years ago but some say it is not New Order without him.  Others argue that Gillian left for years and they still played and recorded as New Order.  Whatever your viewpoint on this – it is now irrelevant.  New Order have just released a new album, Music Complete, to stunning reviews and are now following it up with a tour to promote it.

The Brixton Academy is not my favourite choice of venue as the security is so tight – however after the horrors of Paris last week I was grateful for the security.  Bags were checked and people were patted down.  It gave some reassurance.  As this venue is an O2 venue, if you are an O2 customer, not only do you get first priority in the queue for you and another three people with you (and at Brixton they do let that queue go in first – unlike Shepherds Bush who let everyone in at the same time), but you also get a free bag if you buy a certain amount of merchandise and you can put your coat in the cloakroom for free.  It is worth being an O2 customer and I took full advantage of all of this.
The support came in the form of a DJ and a band. DJ Tin Tin started getting the crowd going with his electronic beats as soon as the doors opened.  This was followed up by The Horrors.  The Horrors are a band that sound like a cross between Bauhaus and Placebo.  Their music was really good but unfortunately the audience could not watch the show as the lighting was absolutely dreadful or should I say horrific?  If blinding your audience and having no lights on the performers is what The Horrors were trying to achieve they did a fantastic job but for me and many in the audience I was like a rabbit in the headlights.  New Order attract a more mature audience so The Horrors do need to tailor their performance to whom they are playing to if they ever want to make it out of the ‘support act’ category.  But in no time it was time for the main event.

New Order came on to the background of a French Flag and Barney’s first words were ‘Viva La France’.  This was reciprocated with a huge cheer from the audience.  They opened with Singularity, a track from their new album and an instant hit with the crowd.  To follow this with Ceremony – a New Order/Joy Division classic set the scene for one of the most enjoyable gigs they have ever performed.  Ceremony is always a crowd pleaser and so the mosh pit begins.  The set was heavily electronic and included 586, Age of Consent and Your Silent Face.  As the tour was to promote the new album it also featured several tracks from Music Complete.  There is not a bad track on Music Complete so it didn’t really matter which songs they chose but the choices were excellent, including Tutti Fruitti and People on the High Line featuring Elly Jackson from La Roux.  Elle has the perfect voice to compliment Barney’s vocals on this dance number and the crowd were surging like a wave on the sea.
Waiting For The Sirens Call was a special mix that New Order has never played in the UK before.  This version of sirens is most definitely dedicated to the electronic dance fans.

If a set list could get any better, they then played True Faith and Temptation.  Neither had been expected but was hugely welcomed and the crowd couldn’t be more pleased and showed it the only way a gig crowd can – dancing and singing along.
It was already 10.45 so when Barney said they had time for no more – I believed him as it is normally the time of night most bands do finish for the night.  But New Order was not finished – they came back with an encore to end all encores.  Barney said ‘We would like to dedicate this part of our set, actually our whole set to the victims of the appalling and senseless violence in France last week.’ and with that launched into Joy Division’s Atmosphere and Love will tear us apart.  With moving imagery including photos of Ian Curtis and ‘Forever Joy Division’ written on the screens – this gave the biggest cheer of the night.

And what did they finish on?  Well it was a Monday night so how about a bit of Blue Monday?
So was it the best ever New Order gig?  Gigs are very personal and each audience member has its own version of an ideal set list but this comes pretty close to pleasing most NO fans.  And did we miss Hooky?  Not a chance!

Set List
Age of Consent
Lonesome tonight
Your silent face
Tutti Fruitti
People on the highline
Bizarre Love Triangle
Waiting for the Siren’s call
Perfect Kiss
True Faith

Love will tear us apart
Blue Monday


This review also features on the Electronically Yours Website: http://www.electronicallyyours.co.uk/index.php/features/new-order-live-brixton-o2

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A wonderful day in an unusual venue

What do you do to celebrate a birthday that is the year before a very big birthday?  Well this year I knew in advance what I wanted to do.

For years I have been in awe of the Post Office Tower. It is one of the tallest buildings in London at 189 metres and has a rich history.  Years ago it used to have a restaurant at the top and it revolved around the sights of London, but due to the IRA threats in the 1970’s it was closed down to the public.  It is now known as the BT Tower and still not open to the public but it still an historic icon and in 2003 it was granted grade II listed status.  My parents had eaten in the restaurant – but more than that – as a child I remember a film with Joe Brown and Sid James that featured the Post Office Tower before it opened officially.  I was fascinated with this film – Three hats for Lisa, and so my interest in the tower has remained throughout my years. ­
2015 is the tower’s 50th year and it decided to open the tower up for a good cause as a way for RedR charity to raise money.  They sold tickets for one day to have a 45 minute ‘flight’ to the top – along with some champagne and cake – it sounded like the perfect way to celebrate my birthday – especially as it was happening two days before my actual birthday at the same time as giving to a worthwhile cause.  So on an overcast Friday at the end of October, I had my ticket to go somewhere special.  Somewhere the public wasn’t allowed.  Somewhere that had been a big part of who I am without me even realising it.

We arrived at the door and security was tighter than meeting the Queen!  We had to have informed them in advance who we were and provide our passports.  We were scanned through an airport security screen with our bags also being screened but I was very glad of the security.  Once past security it was breath-taking.  There were beautiful photos on the walls and models of the tower alongside decorated telephone boxes.  There was lots of information and many very friendly volunteers of the charity to help us find our way around.
The lift to the tower is very fast and getting to the 34th floor took no time at all.  We were offered our glass of champagne and took a seat to enjoy the views.  It was not overcrowded but just enough people to give a buzz of excitement.  They rotated the floor so we didn’t have to move to see all of London.  It really did make the London eye look tiny.  I can only compare it to the Fernsehturm TV tower in Berlin.  There is surely nowhere else you can get a view like this in London.  It was a long time coming – but worth every moment and every penny.  The great thing was the day raised over £36,000 for the charity who does a lot of fantastic work.  On our departure I was given a certificate to say I have been up the tower. Now you don’t do that every day.

If that wasn’t enough for a Londoner like me – after our departure I decided to go and find where I was born.  I was born in Middlesex Hospital but had never visited it.  The nearest tube to this is Goodge Street and I always say ‘I know someone who was born here’ when I am on the Northern Line.  So today I actually got off at Goodge Street and headed towards Mortimer Street where the Middlesex Hospital resides.
Actually it doesn’t reside there anymore.  They pulled this historic building down around 2007 and build a load of brand new business offices /flats instead.  It took me an hour and a half to find exactly where it had stood because I had to research it online.  However eventually I found they had kept a facia on one side of the building – I was delighted.  I had never seen where I was born before and now I was standing on almost the exact spot I came into the world.  I felt complete.  A truly wonderful day.

If you want to know more about the work of RedR or donate, please go to http://www.redr.org.uk/ for more details.

More photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasminestormie/albums/72157660347853067



Sunday, 8 November 2015

Do more than just remember on Remembrance Sunday!

Today is Remembrance Sunday.  It is a day when we take stock of how lucky we are to live in a democratic society that is free because of the dedication and commitment of our armed forces.  Today we take time to remember those we have lost and those who fought for us – let us not forget their commitment and determination to make this country what it is today.

So with that thought in mind it is a different kind of blog I write today.  Two friends of mine, Jean and Ken Rush are very generous people who are looking to donate to a good cause.  So my blog will tell you how you can buy a perfect Christmas present and give to a good cause at the same time.

Please do mention ‘Jasmine Storm’ when you order so that they know where you saw the advert.  Many thanks to all of you who are going to buy a print and help such a worthy cause.

Here is a word from Jean and Ken:

'Some of you already know about Ken's meeting with Dame Vera Lynn in May, when he presented her with a signed print of his painting "We Meet Again" in celebration of the 70th anniversary of VE Day and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  The painting is based on a photograph which Ken took five years ago when he was invited to the 70th anniversary Battle of Britain celebrations, and Dame Vera and the remaining Battle of Britain veterans lined up in front of a Spitfire on Horse Guards Parade.  Ken is an Associate of the Guild of Aviation Artists.

There is a limited edition of signed prints available for £100 each including postage and packing, of which £25 will go to Dame Vera Lynn's children's charity.  The offer is on the charity website: dvlcc.org.uk.

This England magazine published an article about Ken in the autumn but we would like everyone to have the opportunity to buy a print, which would make a wonderful Christmas present in this anniversary year.  Three of the veterans in the painting were seen on TV during the anniversary week in May, still full of life.  We hope we can raise a lot of money for Dame Vera's charity as a further tribute to them.’

Anyone interested can contact Ken via his email rush.k@sky.com.


Thursday, 29 October 2015

John Bentley. Based on a true story. (Album review)

John Bentley.  Does the name ring a bell?  Well he probably most well-known as the bassist of Squeeze from 1979 to 1983.  And he re-joined Squeeze again in 2007 until very recently.  So John is a veteran in the music industry.  And he has been very busy using his skills to put his latest album together.

His latest album is based on a true story.  No, that is actually the name of the album.  It is a very well designed sleeve available only on vinyl (or can I still say record?) so you get a luxury item that you can enjoy and actually hold in your hands.  The sleeve note on the back is from Squeeze comrade and friend, Chris Difford.  John’s sense of humour is all over this album including five steps in case you have purchased it by mistake.  The album comes with a free download and lyrics sheet for those of you who have embraced the modern genre.  But a real lyrics sheet! A lyrics sheet is key to this album as these songs tell stories.  They are all gems in their own right and the production of this album is fantastic. You can hear the quality in each track.
Listening to the album feels like you are going on a journey of discovery.  Each song has its own merits and each individual will find their own favourites.  Kristine is a mix of rock n roll with a funky keyboard.  Thief in the night is a beautiful piano ballad that sounds inspired by Elvis Costello.  Quicksand has the most poignant words that give shivers down your spine.  Elvis & Me is an earworm of a song you just can’t stop singing.  Closing time is a very brassy classy track with a jazz feel.

Time to turn the album over to side two.  This side starts with I wanna be your slave.  It has a great brass section and has a slight Latino feel.  This could be used on Strictly.
Things could only get worse feels like a paranoid hypochondriac with a sense of humour.  The lyrics are outstanding.  A mirror cracked still has a slight Squeeze feel about it.  But of course everybody is made up from their own experiences.  Psycho fun is almost an instrumental. But everybody must obey.  There is no getting away from this.  The album ends on Living in a bubble which is a slow number.  ‘I’m feeling rather small. I can squeeze my little world into a ball’. Fantastic lyrics that really gives the song meaning.

Overall with 14 tracks of sublime storytelling you feel that John has delivered the album of his life.  If you like quality music that moves you – or like me you are very lyrics motivated – this is definitely worth a listen.  After all it is based on a true story.

…based on a true story is available from http://www.johnbentley.tv/

Track listing:

It’s giving me the creeps

Closing time

Elvis & Me



You didn’t care about love

Thief in the night

I wanna be your slave

Civilisation Ho!

Things could only get worse

A mirror cracked

The hangman

Psycho fun

Living in a bubble


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Monday, 26 October 2015

I am a finalist in the Milton Keynes Digital Awards!

I am delighted to announce that I am a finalist in the Milton Keynes Digital Awards for my blog.

Firstly I would like to thank you. Yes you! If you are reading this you have been supporting me by being interested in what I have to say.

I started this blog because I have always had a lot to say and it was a way of recording my thoughts. I originally started off offering my opinion on films but in recent years that has been overtaken by theatre shows and concerts. I never realised my blog would become so popular or be read by so many people.

I especially wanted to share my own experiences of all the shows I went to. I didn't want to write a generic review. I wanted to give you a very personal view of the event. I wanted to share my story and photos. I wanted to tell you honestly if it was any good as any friend would, so that you would really know if it was worth going to.

I now not only write my own blog, but I write theatre reviews for a local Milton Keynes website, a national electronic music website and I have been invited to write for two London based theatre sites. I have also been approached by musicians to review their albums.

I am absolutely blown away with the support I receive for my reviews. That so many of you not only read them - but offer me such positive comments about them too. I have also received lovely comments from many of the famous musicians/actors themselves. All of this motivates me to continue to do what I do. Thanks also to About Milton Keynes website for their support. They wrote this about the forthcoming awards:

If you want to read more about the awards and the other finalists, you can find out more here:

As a girl I had always dreamed that I might win an Oscar one day. It was of course a dream and I grew up. But this award really is my grown-up equivalent. I am very excited to be a finalist and of course if I win, I promise to give a speech worthy of an Oscar (but not as long). There might even be a few tears.

So what are my plans for 2016? A new website offering more reviews. More random thoughts. More opportunities. It really is a wonderful life!

Romeo and Juliet by the English National Ballet - Milton Keynes Theatre

My review of Romeo and Juliet by the English National Ballet is now available on the 'About Milton Keynes' website.


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair comes to Milton Keynes.

I have always had a diverse taste in style. I have never chosen to follow fashion but instead love individual pieces that no one else is wearing.

Coming from the post-punk generation and with not much money to my name, as a teenager I scoured the charity shops to find something I could adapt to my tastes.  I hand-sewed items, chopped them up and added accessories to make it stand out.  I once had a dress made from a set of curtains and a necklace from a shopping trolley.  And I’m sure you have all seen photos of my ‘Black Bride’ punk phase!
In recent years charity shops are not what they were and any items considered worth something are sold on eBay instead of the shop.  It stops a range of people going into charity shops (except for the poorest in our society) and I do think that charity shops need to re-think this strategy so they can reinvent themselves as a cool place to shop.  But thanks to Dawn O’Porter and a nostalgic view of all things retro – second hand clothes have rebranded themselves.  There are many shops in big cities now that call themselves ‘Vintage’ and what was once uncool has reinvented itself as cool again.

So it was with delight that I heard that Lou Lou vintage Fair was coming to Milton Keynes.  Milton Keynes being a new city (don’t get me started about the ‘Is it a town/city’ debate – that’s a blog for another day) does have lots of charity shops but doesn’t really do vintage.  In fact the whole ethos of Milton Keynes seems to be embrace the new and throw away the old.  This is certainly true of its architecture such as The Point, The Agora (Wolverton) and the sad demise of Bletchley Leisure Centre.  I don’t want Milton Keynes to become the Primark of the country. I want Milton Keynes to stand out and be proud to be different the same way my vintage items are.  Although I love vintage, I did wonder how successful vintage would be to others in Milton Keynes.  So on a very rainy Saturday in October; I headed over to find out more about what Milton Keynes shoppers could expect from vintage.
I found very friendly stall-holders.  I found a lot of quality vintage items and some new vintage inspired items, a chance to try out new hairstyles and some very delicious tea and homemade cake.  They even had cake forks and real sugar lumps!

The music was definitely vintage – mainly 1960s and I found myself singing along to almost every track.  Stalls were very clear on what their remit was and there was a range of vintage from 1940s coats; gloves of the 1950s and dresses from the 1960s.  I found smock tops and psychedelic dresses from the 1970s and a bit of sparkle and shoulders from the 1980s. Vintage really should be over 30 years old to call itself such but really its how you wear it that makes it special.  If you are old enough to remember the decade you are wearing – then pair that item up with a more modern item for a fresh look.
I might have been raining outside, but inside the sun was shining like those long hot summers we all remember.

I do hope Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair will visit Milton Keynes again – and those of you who love vintage make sure you put that date on your dance card!  





Friday, 9 October 2015

Heaven 17 - Live at the Jazz Cafe - Track by track review of latest CD

Ever wondered what Heaven 17 sound like live? Then read my review of the CD live at the Jazz Café on the Electronically Yours Website.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Squeeze – You can take me - I’m yours

Cradle to Grave Tour.  29.09.15 at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Do you remember how a crush affects you? It hits you suddenly and with such a force that you are breathless. Well last night – that’s how I felt about Squeeze.  To be honest, I didn’t know much of their back catalogue, but for some reasons unbeknown to me I owned a copy of labelled with love which I knew all the words to – and let me tell you this was no mean feat before the days of internet, where you either had to listen to a song repetitively to learn it (and sometimes still sing the wrong words) or hope Smash Hits would print them for you.  Labelled with love has turned into a song I sing a lot and there is a famous video of me in 1999 singing it which will not see the likes of YouTube, but suffice to say I give it my all.  Last night Squeeze progressed from ‘an old but good friend’ status to a full blown love affair.
The evening started with John Cooper Clarke who is a poet.  I couldn’t believe people in the audience hadn’t heard of him – but I was familiar with his work.  He was very funny, telling jokes in-between the poems.  I would say his style is a frustrated punk/aggressive poet. He easily won over the audience and despite his swearing comes across as a lovely guy.  (Sorry John but you do).

Then came the main event.  To be honest I am a lyrics person and love singing along so was a bit worried I wouldn’t know many songs.  Actually I shouldn’t have worried.  I knew far more songs than I had given myself credit for.  And those I didn’t know were from the new album which is officially released this week.
Classics such as ‘Is that love?’, ‘Goodbye Girl’, ‘Pulling Mussels from a shell’ and ‘Up the Junction’ were mixed with new tracks such as ‘Happy Days’, ‘Only fifteen’ and ‘Cradle to the Grave’.  Of course when they played Labelled with Love I sang it very loud, I still knew every word.

So what made me fall in love with Squeeze?  Just like a love of anything, it’s a combination of things. They were very professional so it was really good value for money no matter how much you paid for your ticket.  They played a range of instruments that I don’t think I’ve ever seen on one stage before.  This included accordion, ukulele, double bass, mandolin and some instruments that I don’t even know the name of.  This was in addition to 12 string guitars, electric guitars, electric acoustic, bass and of course Glenn Tilbrook’s black battered electric which looks like it’s seen better days –but boy did he play the shit out of that thing!  At one point I thought his guitar playing was so awesome that I would describe him as a ‘folk Hendrix’.  And his voice IS Squeeze.  It’s so recognisable.  Chris Difford has a different style.  He is very warm to the audience and interacts with them.  He also sings and plays guitar and you will recognise his vocals from tracks such as Cool for Cats.
Many of you may think that Squeeze is purely Difford and Tilbrook.  But let me tell you that every member of that band deserves a mention as they are all amazing musicians in their own right.  Lucy Shaw is on bass.  It’s fantastic to see a girl on bass but not just bass as she pulls out a double bass when you were least expecting it.  Stephen Large (known as the cool one) is keyboards.  But again not just keyboards – anything with some black and white keys he can pick up and play.  And where does a drummer sit?  At the back but what a drummer he is!  Simon Hanson has such a presence – it’s never about sitting quietly with a drummer.  You will easily recognise him as he looks a bit like Bruce Willis (Tell me I’m wrong!), Although Simon would much prefer to be compared to be Brad Pitt. Finally Melvin Duffy plays ‘steel guitar’. (Yes I had to look that up).  He is obviously having a great time and smiles such a lot while on stage.  All of them together make up Squeeze and have worked together to make an incredible new album which deserves the recognition and praise it is currently receiving.

They played a couple of tracks I particularly want to mention.  ‘Black coffee in bed’ is a track where they announced they had a special guest.  I couldn’t think who it could be.  And then they announce it’s Paul Young.  Well my heart nearly stopped beating - what an amazing collaboration.  And during Slap & Tickle all the band members came to the front of the stage and had a ‘play off’ of their instruments.  It was an amazing moment.  They all looked like they were having a good time so when Chris told me to stand up and dance, I did.  It took a couple more hints before the rest of the audience joined me but eventually everyone was on their feet dancing.
I met the band afterwards and they are all just as lovely in real life as they seem on stage.  They had noticed my dancing – See its worth making the effort!

If you haven’t already, you should all go and buy the new album Cradle to the Grave and if possible get a ticket to see a gig (they are touring until 24 October).  I almost feel ashamed to say I don’t know their entire back catalogue but I’m going out to buy it all now!
You cannot escape Squeeze.  Cradle to the Grave is a new show on BBC2 comedically documenting the life of a young Danny Baker.  Not only did Squeeze do the theme tune but also other tracks such as Only Fifteen.  And their new single ‘Happy Days’ is being played on national radio.  So do what I did.  Give in to it and fall head over heels in love with Squeeze.