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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Chicago/Milwaukee: Midwest dispatches from Michelle

Frequent Squeeze Reader reader Michelle has sent us a review of the Chicago and Milwaukee GT and the Fluffers shows. Michelle says in the review that Glenn love us, but you folks in the M.W. are lucky! Someday I'll see Glenn with a band....
The Chicago show was hands-down, the single best Glenn show I have ever seen, Squeeze or otherwise. He and the Fluffers have melded into one beautifully orchestrated organism.

The band took the stage after 11 p.m. and played until about 1. I don't have a set list - I was too swept up in the moment, I did get pictures though, and I'll be sharing those shortly. Our sartorially-challenged hero was wearing some jeans that were badly torn and frayed at the bottom, red Keds and his gray button-down shirt. The hair is at an optimal length!

His voice is 99% now - he's avoiding some of the highest notes, (splitting up was never our inten-TION) but generally, he sounded terrific and powerful. He was chatty, he was fun, he did "Mussels" as the opening number of the second half of the set, while roaming through the crowd - the crowd of very 400 excited people. I can't say enough how electric the atmosphere in that club was. Stephen was simply magnificent. I don't have a large enough vocabulary to describe what he does. Suffice it to say, he had everyone mesmerized.

The Band did all the favorites, plus These Boots Are Made for Walking. And as for Maidstone, he was very polite in explaining that the band doesn't know the song. I managed to get him to admit (after the show)
that maybe it would be prudent for the band to learn it.

We hung out at the bar until we were booted out at 3:45. The drinks were free-flowing, and we got to chat for a long time. I got to spend time with 1-L and her wonderful husband Glen, their friend Cindy, Jackie the amazing pastry chef, Lauren, Josh, Blair - Rodney... lots of friends showed up, lots of familiar faces. It was great seeing everyone.

As for the west coast - he, first of all, asked me to explain to all of you that he LOVES YOU and appreciates your support. He said that it wasn't possible for him to do a tour of the whole country, and since he'd been there last in October, he hoped everyone would realize it wasn't a slight - he just wanted to hit some places that were easy to drive to. New York to California just isn't possible right now.

Glenn is starting to work on some songs for the new album with the Fluffers. As for those demos - it seems that things have been slowed down because of the record company (Universal, I think he said? I'm not sure, please correct me if you know the answer) He's got permission to release them now, and in return, he's given his permission for the entire back catalog to be re-released. He said he was being very meticulous about finding the right bonus tracks for these, and that it would be awhile.

And now for the bad news.Ok, not "bad", exactly, but just kind of "sad" in a selfish kind of way. Glenn isn't coming back to the US until next year. With solo tours of Japan, Australia, and summer concerts in the UK planned, he's got a full plate. He wants to get back into the studio. I've been used to seeing him 2x a year now, and I'm spoiled. But you know, he's got a life too.....

And now, onto Milwaukee.

Milwaukee is a beautiful city - very green and although it is on Lake Michigan, as is Chicago, has a very different look and feel. I generally like it there, and I have always been impressed with how much I like the clients I work with from Wisconsin. And they have these adorable accents there, and say things like "ode hay". Someday I am going to stop at the Mars Cheese Castle and the Bong recreation area.

My review is going to seem like a little bit of a "dis", and I'm sorry if it does. But after the wild roar of Saturday's show in Chicago, I think I would have been disappointed by almost anything.

It wasn't the Fluffers. It wasn't Glenn. They worked their hung-over tails off and sounded brilliant. It was the crowd. The venue was set up with tables and chairs, and nobody wanted to dance. I've never been at GT&F show where people just sit and clap. He invited us to get up and dance, and nobody took him up on it.

I knew Glenn had his work cut out for him when Jim Bianco, the kick-ass opening act, started making jokes to lighten the mood. He got a big "woo hoo" from the audience when he said (jokingly) that he'd been to church in the morning....

When Glenn came on, I tried hard to stay in my seat, but it wasn't possible.. I got up to dance and an 18 year old came with me. I begged and bribed people to dance, but they just thought I was on drugs. And I wasn't - I swear. I was completely sober. I too was hung over. Glenn finally broke the ice by the second act, by going to the back of the venue where the bar was, and he and the band performed on it, with Jim Bianco and his trio joining them on accordion and the tiniest little trumpet I have ever seen.

They switched to playing from 45's and under - working fewer of his solo stuff in the mix. He did "Walk Away", which literally blew some of this tiny crowd of about 40 out of the water. For Up the Junction, I had company up dancing at the front, but it didn't last for long. When the Band left the stage to get ready for the encore, people jumped out of their seats and begged for more. Simon ended the show by diving into the cymbals - which, in turn, fell off the stage and onto my body. No harm, no foul, but it was funny. They loved him, but I don't know. They had less energy. Maybe that's because it was a Sunday show, or maybe because the crowd was a bit older. About half stayed after to meet and greet the Band. One guy was so blown away by one of Glenn's amazing solos that he rushed the stage to give Glenn a high five. During Take Me I'm Yours, Stephen broke into a full rendition of "Funky Town".

Simon left for London a few hours after the show to go be by the side of his very expectant girlfriend. He's being replaced by a guy from Nashville, but I didn't get the details. Simon will be back shortly, and is anxious to be on the road with the band. Thank goodness for Chris the bus driver (sweetheart of a guy, by the way who introduces the Band with a mini stand-up routine) and the manager (whose name escapes me, which is sad, because he was absolutely lovely and so kind to me) - they held everything together and took off that night for MN.

I invite anyone else who was at either show to fill in the gaping holes in my report.

Exhausted, overjoyed, and depress-edly yours,

Great review, Michelle! Also, Lily also has a review of the Annapolis show. Happy reading!