It was a nice day for it, to put it mildly. The sun shone on the naval college this morning as this year’s Greenwich Summer Sessions shows were launched to the press. Playing this year are The Divine Comedy and Jose Gonzalez (July 26), Mark Ronson and the Business International (July 27), Status Quo and Nine Below Zero (July 28), Squeeze (July 29) and the Pogues (July 30). It’s a stronger line-up than last year, with more acts to come and one further show on July 31 to be announced later.
There’s plenty of local links behind the Summer Sessions – just like last year when Deptford’s Athlete played. Promoter Peter Conway lives locally, while Status Quo can also boast solid neighbourhood credentials – Francis Rossi was born in Forest Hill, founded the band with a Catford schoolmate and played an early gig at the Welcome Inn, Eltham. Their support, Nine Below Zero, boasts Charlton-based guitarist Dennis Greaves.
But you don’t get much more south-east London than Squeeze – into their second summer of playing shows after their recent reunion. Glenn Tilbrook still lives locally, but for Chris Difford, it’s a return to old haunts. “I was just looking at the estate agents in the street where I used to live – King George Street – and it’s extraordinary. It’s a neighbourhood that I don’t think I can afford,” he said after posing for photos on the naval college lawn.
“The last time I stood in that ground was when I was about five years old, and the Queen about to meet all the local schools. I shook hands with somebody but it wasn’t the Queen, it was somebody who’d been on a yacht around the world,” he continued. But what about the famous Painted Hall of the naval college? “The rumour is that there’s 367 breasts on the ceiling, according to a schoolfriend who spent far too long in there.”
Squeeze are playing the Royal Albert Hall next week – with the orchestra from Trinity College of Music – but Chris is looking forward to the homecoming. “We’re like the village cat, whenever we come back everybody strokes us,” he grinned.
The first show marks a year until the Olympics opening ceremony, so Charlton-based Team GB judo hopeful Gemma Gibbons was also at the launch. Tickets for that and all the other shows go on sale from Thursday.