It's hard to believe, after watching veteran band Squeeze play a near-flawless show at the Wiltern, that the group has never achieved a success greater than the rabid cult following that it continuesto maintain.

It’s hard to believe, after watching veteran band Squeeze play a near-flawless show at the Wiltern, that the group has never achieved a success greater than the rabid cult following that it continuesto maintain.

Since its eye-opening debut in 1978, the band –through its songwriting core of Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford — has created solid, dramatic pop gems that , at times, even rival Lennon/McCartney for spirit-moving effect. On “Some Fantastic Place” (A&M), the band’s 12th album, an unapologetic loyalty to the art of pop-song craft and simple, uncluttered delivery is apparent.

This show was a well-balanced mix of older semi-hits and crowd favorites like “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” and “Tempted” (the latter sung by prodigal keyboardist Paul Carrack), and cuts from the new album, including the Beatles-esque “Third Rail,” the moving “Jolly Comes Home” and first single, “Everything in the World,” three of the better efforts.

The only down moments came with “True Colours,” a flat piece of almost-reggae from the new record, and “How Long,” a bland number that Carrack originally recorded with ’70s group Ace.

At this late date, the band has surely accepted the fact that it’s probably never going to get the respect — sales or otherwise — that it deserves (Tilbrook even had to ask the seemingly enthusiastic crowd to get up out of the seats near the end of the concert). Where other groups would retire, hands thrown up in the air, the members of Squeeze thankfully choose to continue making music for themselves.

Cincinnati-based Over the Rhine, signed to IRS Records, opened the evening with a warmly crafted 45-minute set of blues, country, rock and folk. Singer Karin Bergquist cut an engaging Edie Brickell-meets-Joni Mitchell figure that seemed to catch many in the audience by pleasant surprise. A talented young band , Over the Rhine appears ready for a shot at national exposure.

Squeeze

(Wiltern Theater; 2,200 seats; $ 28.50 top)

Production

Promoted by Avalon. Reviewed Nov. 20.

Cast

Band: Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook, Keith Wilkinson, Pete Thomas, Paul Carrack.
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