Squeeze, a five-man British rock outfit with a growing reputation, took a while to move a somewhat lethargic audience at the Bayou last night. The band plays a lyrically clever brand of Anglo-rock that calls to mind past melodic progressive like Sparks and Small Faces.

Part of the band's problem is that it lacks any visual dynamism outside of the clowning of the keyboardist, Jools Holland. Lead guitarist and singer and Glen Tilbrook effortlessly handled the band's eclectic material, but not always with the distinctiveness that some of its imaginative material deserved.

Still many of the band's songs, like "Up the Junction" and "Cool the Cats," are as inventive, funny and memorable as the best in modern rock. As the show unwound, the band rocked harder and stronger without sacrificing its characteristic wit and sophistication, and finally got the audience moving and received a well-deserved encore.

Opening was D.C.'s fast-rising Slickee Boys. The band has fashioned a raw and humorous style by self-consciously drawing on some of rock's most deranged styles - rockabilly, surf instrumentals, TV and movie themes, and '60s punk and psychedelia. Its performance, led by a razoredged dual guitar attack, lacked the precision playing and sophistication of Squeeze, but was energetic fun nonetheless.