Chris Difford squeezes in a theatre gig

Emily DennisHe was a founding member of one of the best-loved acts of the 1970s and '80s. Emily Dennis talks to Chris Difford from Squeeze about his upcoming gig in Suffolk.Emily Dennis

Chris Difford is a busy man. The double Ivor Novello award-winner is on a 33-date tour across the UK showcasing new solo material along with the hits that made him famous.

Later this month his travels will take him to a Suffolk theatre where he will be supported by rising young singer/songwriter Ella Edmondson, the eldest daughter of comedians Adrian Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders.

Chris is best known for being a founding member of pop-rock band Squeeze and for co-writing their hit singles like Tempted, Cool for Cats and Up the Junction.

The band notched up a raft of hits in the UK and America, but after 13 albums, 32 American tours, 30 UK tours and various trips around the globe, Chris decided to make a break and his first solo album I Didn't Get Where I Am… was released in 2001.

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One of his next stops will take him to the Fisher Theatre in Bungay and, while this will be his first visit to the town, the 54-year-old has promised fans they will have plenty to look forward to.

'I am really looking forward to it. I am sure it will be great,' he said yesterday. 'There will be a few of the old classics together with some new material. There will be a bit of a mixture really, but I think everybody will get a dose of Squeeze.'

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Chris is touring with fellow Squeeze member John Bentley and singer Dorie Jackson and his concert is being described as 'An evening of songs, stories, photos and maybe a cup of tea'.

The father-of-two, who lives in Brighton, will perform new versions of solo material such as Cowboys Are My Weakness and Lamas Fayre, plus a host of songs from his critically acclaimed second solo album The Last Temptation of Chris, together with some new takes on some Squeeze classics.

The show will feature talk, song, and Chris's new travelling companion - a projector. This will enable audiences to see a slide or two from the songwriter's life, illustrated by music, or songs from his career, illustrated by slides.

And it is not just the original Squeeze fans who enjoy Chris's shows.

'People bring their children along, which is fantastic,' he said. 'We get all sorts of different people right across the board. This is a very busy time for us. Tonight we are in Leicester and tomorrow we are in York. We are doing 33 dates across the UK.'

Chris has written with artists such as Elton John, Marti Pellow and Bryan Ferry, but he said that being presented with two Ivor Novello Awards had been a highlight of his career.

'They really were the cherry on the cake,' he said. 'I am really proud of them and it was great to accept them. It is a lot like winning the FA Cup for musicians. They have pride of place next to a clock on the mantelpiece.'

Along with touring and writing, Chris teaches songwriting to students at Brighton Institute of Modern Music, a role which he describes as 'very rewarding'.

'They are great kids and quite a few are really very talented,' he added.

During his younger years, Chris said, he was hugely influenced by bands such as The Who and the Small Faces and now he finds it a huge honour to be cited as an inspiration by younger artists such as Lily Allen and Mark Ronson.

Squeeze's original line- up comprised of Chris Difford (guitar, vocals, lyrics) Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, guitar, music), Jools Holland (keyboards) and Paul Gunn (drums).

Holland left the band for a solo career in 1980, but the band re-formed and resumed recording and touring following a charity gig in 1985. Holland left again in 1990 and Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook embarked on separate solo careers after Squeeze broke up again following a gig in 1999 in Aberdeen. In 2007 it was announced that Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook would re-form Squeeze and a new album is planned for next year.

Despite all the changes in the band's line-up over the years, Chris said they all remained friends. 'I am very close to them all. We get on really well,' he said.

Chris will be playing at the Fisher Theatre in Bungay on Saturday. Tickets cost �14 and are available by contacting the theatre's box office on 01986 897130 or from The Fisher Theatre, 10 Broad Street, Bungay, Suffolk NR35 1EE.

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