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www.djburnham.com, Writing, Review of Nick Harper and Squeeze live at the Guildhall, Southampton, 24th May 1996, David Burnham, D.J. Burnham, Dave Burnham

Nick Harper and Squeeze at the Guildhall, Southampton

Friday 24th May 1996

A couple of weeks after the Beachcomber gig, and Sue and I were heading off through driving rain, accidents (not us, fortunately, but we helped the person who's car spun out of control) and heavy traffic to get to Southampton. Nick had joined Squeeze for a short unplugged acoustic tour, playing some big-ish venues, so we thought we'd check out the nearest one to us. We eventually found the Guildhall, having seen it go past several times (courtesy of the one-way system) and dashed into the cavernous hall. Nick was already on the huge stage playing his solo support slot, but hadn't been on long, fortunately. A good size crowd had gathered round and the reception was very positive, especially as there were probably quite a few people there who hadn't seen him before.

We bumped into Nick at the bar, after his set, and congratulated him on having become a father the previous day - Jackie had given birth to a baby girl. He seemed, understandably, slightly 'Shell-shocked' by recent events. As we chatted, Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith took the stage as second support, so we drifted back into the hall to see him. (He was on Jools Holland's "Later" TV show recently - if Sexsmith can get on British TV, then Nick should definitely make an appearance too!)

We thought that Nick would be joining Squeeze for just a couple of songs, but after the first three solo numbers from Difford and Tilbrook, they introduced him onto stage and he played with them for almost the entire evening! We were surprised by just how many old Squeeze songs we new and really enjoyed it, with a very friendly vibe from the audience. Nick provided some good, solid rhythm guitar, interspersed with some gorgeous solos, including one particularly jazzy bit of riffing which prompted a comment from Glenn, "What a solo! Nick Harper, ladies and gentlemen." He then informed everyone that Nick had just become a Dad and the happy news elicited a big cheer from the crowd.

Bearing in mind that Nick had just completed a 30-date solo tour, had only had time for a few day's rehearsal and had barely got a few hours kip in the past couple of days - he was absolutely amazing! It's a tribute to his professionalism and talent that he was more than able to rise to the occasion. If the rest of the tour goes as well as this first night did, then he is certain to win a lot of new friends and fans, along with the recognition that he so richly deserves.

Dave Burnham 1996

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