Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Big Head Todd and the Monsters/Squeeze

The 1600 team hit the back roads out to Wolf Trap Farm Park on August 9th for a double header show and interview with Big Head Todd and the Monsters, a Colorado quartet that typically headline at most venues, who on that soggy evening were opening up for pop/rock legends Squeeze. Through some fortuitous timing, we managed to catch up first with guitar slinger Todd Park Mohr, bassist Rob Squires, Brian Nevin on drums, and Jeremy Lawton, keyboardist and occasional steel guitar player backstage, and then shanghaied Squeeze drummer Simon Hanson (no relation to the Hansons of MMM-Bop fame) for a quick word. Our first back to back interviews with two bands for the price of one! Look for that to air in the near future. And many thanks to Graham Binder of Wolf Trap, our favorite national park, for going out of his way to make us feel at home at the Filene Center.

After the interview, it soon began to drizzle, then a slow, drenching rain settled over us for the night. And because your friends at 1600 like to picnic in the park, we had lawn seats, which afforded us a pretty good view, but also made for some well- soaked fans by evening's end. For their part, however, both bands turned in great sets, with clear sound and an energetic presence. The self-described modern rock band and longtime college radio favorite's set included their excellent cover of Led Zeppelin's Tangerine, and signature tunes Bittersweet, Circle, and Broken Hearted Savior. They also picked one of their tastiest ballads, Please Don't Tell Her, off the Beautiful World cd, for the hour long set, and Blue Sky which made it all the way into orbit with astronaut Steve Swanson on the Space Shuttle! And of course, Beautiful Rain drew cheers from the appreciative and dripping wet crowd. Hard to believe that Todd and his crew have been around for 20 years, they still have the freshness and enthusiasm of a band just starting out. 'Til their next visit, check out www.bigheadtodd.com, for more news, tour info, discs, and an opportunity to help out some of the worthy charities these guys support. But next time, please play a couple of my requests, okay guys?

With an even longer and more storied career, Squeeze clocks in at more than 30. Unlike Todd, however, Squeeze has weathered several line-up changes, including the departure of original members including keyboardist Jools Holland and drummer Paul Gunn, but was in fine form with Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook at the helm, supported by longtime Squeeze vet John Bentley on bass, Stephen Large on keyboards and the previously mentioned Simon Hanson on drums, both members of Tilbrook's other band, the Fluffers. Tilbrook was in exceptionally fine voice, and there was non-stop dancing in the aisles during their entire set. Squeeze wound seamlessly through their many FM radio staples including Tempted, Black Coffee in Bed, Annie Get Your Gun, Pulling Mussels From A Shell, Another Nail In My Heart, Cool For Cats, and Is That Love, as well as my personal favorite from the very first (U.K.) Squeeze album, Take Me, I'm Yours. We were all transported back to the innocent, blissful era when MTV actually played music videos (and no ads), skinny ties ruled, and Britney, boy bands, iPods, SUVs and reality TV hadn't even been invented. And to think, some people call this "progress?"

Thanks again to our new pal Simon for his impromptu interview. We look forward to having both bands back in DC again soon! Get out and see them, as each band is even better live than their records would imply, AND because we promised they'd get the notorious "1600 Bounce" from our loyal audience!

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