Right now, certain trends are going through an '80s redux. The scenesters are wearing tight jeans, Mohawk hair-dos, big earrings and Chuck Taylors. These kiddies are adding their own 21st century colors to the clothing palette but anyone over the age of 35 will be reminded of his or her high school days every time these little trendsetters pass by. Music is not immune to this desire, and we seem to have to remember the halcyon days of the Regan era. A slew of musicians who enjoyed the excesses of the '80s are recording new CDsusually with new versions of the songs that made them famousand taking an older and wiser show on the road. One such musician is Glenn Tilbrook, frontman for the early '80s band Squeeze.
For the documentary film Glenn Tilbrook: One For The Road, filmmaker Amy Pickard compiled hours of film she (and Squeeze fans) recorded of Tilbrook as he set out on his first solo acoustic tour of America in 2001. The film follows Tilbrook through a number of I Love Lucy-ish misadventures with a temperamental RV to hundreds of shows across the United States. It is in these bits where the film is saved from being exiled to the Land of Too-Cute. Pickard's love for Tilbrook and his music is abundantly clear, but her high-pitched narration at the beginning of the story and use of a brightly colored, cartoonish map of the United States between chapters is initially off-putting. However, it also sets the stage for the down-to-earth tone of the film.
There is a definite home-movie feel to the movie. Anyone who has ever heard and loved a Squeeze song will appreciate it. Pickard's use of seemingly random film and video camera shots captures Tilbrook's connection with his audiences and the audiences's captivation with Tilbrook. Each performance is high-energy and entertaining whether he's playing a benefit in New York's Grand Central Station or spontaneously performing in the middle of someone's living room (the performances of "Goodbye Girl" are especially enjoyable). He plays new songs from his solo projects and rather than feature only those and eschew the songs that made him and Squeeze part of our musical lexicon, he sings them all. He sings them with the same pride and joy as when they were debuted and viewers are given a glance into Tilbrook's mastery of each song.
One For The Road is Pickard's first film and clearly a labor of love. Squeeze fans and friends donated money, equipment and time, without which there would have been no completion or release of the film. It is a touching, heartfelt look at a man who, 20 years after his heyday, still loves to perform and still does it brilliantly. Squeeze fans now in their 40s will delight in the up-close and personal view of Tilbrook, and their trend-setting progeny just might enjoy it, too.
Glenn Tilbrook: One for the Road premieres on March 22 at 9 p.m. (EST) on VH1Classic.