Chris Difford and Kathryn Williams at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh was an opportunity to see two gifted songwriters and performers in the same evening. For some, Chris Difford may not be the most recognisable name as a singer-songwriter, but just mention the well loved London Band “Squeeze”, mention a few of their classic hits - Cool For Cats, Up The Junction, Labelled With Love - and you see the lights switching on. Yes, Chris Difford, co-founder of Squeeze with Glen Tilbrook has written and co-written these soundtracks to many people’s lives since 1977 and his work since then has encompassed not only Squeeze but working with many of the most recognisable names in music and some of the very best songwriters in the business.
Chris Difford is having a very busy 2017; a new book coming out at the end of this month –“Some Fantastic Place: My Life In and Out of Squeeze”, the 14th Squeeze album and an upcoming tour plus numerous other projects with co-writers and musical collaborators, so it was no surprise that tonight’s set touched a little of some of these bases as Chris took us on a warm nostalgic trip back to his childhood, the formation of Squeeze the band and some new songs. Along the way as an audience, we got to get under the surface a little bit of Chris Difford the person and understand a little more about the words behind some songs and how much these songs reflect Chris’s own personal world and his view of not only himself but everything around him.
As always, the very individual writing style of Chris Difford was there on songs like “Passion Killer” and “Cowboys are my Weakness”, but it was of course the Squeeze back catalogue that struck the most resonant chords with the audience in sing-alongs with classics that included –“Take Me I’m Yours”, “Cool For Cats”, “Pulling Mussels From the Shell” and “Labelled With Love”. Hearing these songs stripped back to only guitar and Chris’s vocals somehow exposed the wonderful words behind the music even more than with the band behind him. There is a genuine warmth to these songs and a warmth to the way that people have taken them to their hearts, and it was obvious throughout this set that Chris Difford is as appreciative of his audience as they are of him and his work.
Opening this show, singer songwriter Kathryn Williams, and like Chris, a gifted songwriter who has just released her 14th album – “Songs From The Novel Greatest Hits”. Like Chris, Kathryn Williams is an astute observer of the world around her and what we all do in it (even if we are not aware of doing it ourselves), and has a gift with words to paint those pictures in songs that somehow capture not only the images but the emotions too. Songs like “Mirrors”, “Heart Shaped Stone”, “Flicker” and “Gave it Away” are fine, well crafted songs, and it is easy to see why Kathryn and Chris are friends and at times musical collaborators. Interesting contrasts though between both artists, as Kathryn is I think a singer-songwriter happy just to be working away somewhere with her music while Chris Difford is far more comfortable on-stage as performer and raconteur. The only problem with discovering a new artist like Kathryn Williams is finding this is album number 14 that is out now and you have a lot of music to catch up on.
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