SOLO and with his band The Fluffers, Glenn Tilbrook has kept himself busy during his time away from Squeeze, but he is canny enough to know what his audience wants to hear.
So his Ironworks set started off with a dip into the Tilbrook/Difford songbook and Take Me I’m Yours given a slightly Spanish feel on his acoustic guitar and including an impressive solo to remind us that Tilbrook’s talents are not just confined to songwriting and that familiar mellow voice.
The audience warmed up with a couple of Squeeze tracks, it was time to bring things up to date with Dennis, a song inspired by the Beach Boys Dennis Wilson from Tilbrook’s newly released solo album Happy Ending.
But just as it seemed he was getting into the flow, he announced he was taking a short break to allow the technicians to sort out the sound. It was a justifiable move. There was a muddy feel to those first songs, but all was clear by the time he returned to the stage, giving the sound a thorough test with a blistering version of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well.
Not content to just cover his own hits or those of others, Tilbrook threaded his new songs into the set. One of these, Everybody Sometimes, took a look at the coalition Government’s austerity drive with typically ironic Squeeze wit, prompting Tilbrook to introduce it with a disclaimer. Rather than just spitting out indignation, he had put his thoughts to a beautiful tune.
"If you don’t like the sentiments, you can still like the tune," he explained.
"If you don’t like either, then I’m sorry."
Coaxing a slightly shy cabaret style audience into singing along, by the time he had switched to his shiny red guitar, the locals were well able to join in with Goodbye Girl and Up The Junction.
But what about his electric guitar, so far untouched at the back of the stage, one audience member wondered.
It was not to be ignored, adding a bluesy feel to not only Tilbrook’s own songs, but a cover of Jimmy Webb’s Wichita Lineman, one songwriting craftsman making a nod to another.
Leaving the stage with a "sea shanty", another Squeeze favourite in Pulling Mussels (From The Shell), Tilbrook’s Inverness visit might not have been quite the same as a visit from his old band, but in giving its audience an intimate evening of good songs and fine musicianship, it made a worthy alternative.