Perennial favorites XTC this weekend – recorded at the legendary Rainbow in London on September 17, 1979. Although many claimed XTC failed to maintain popularity in both the UK and US, they managed to put out some memorable material during their tenure. And because of that, their popularity has grown over the years, by people who either missed out on them the first time or stumbled across them lately.
Admittedly, they were quirky – not Punk, nor New Wave – they would be part of that emerging genre of Post-Punk/Alternative and Indie. But those weren’t termed arrived at in 1979.
The problem with XTC, and it was a big problem, was Andy Partidge’s ongoing severe anxiety and stagefright. Stories of his battles with the condition are legendary. It came to a head during the ill-fated 1982 World Tour, during the height of the band’s popularity. Apparently (as the story goes), Andy’s wife decided to toss out Andy’s complete supply of Valium – a medication he’d been on since he was a teenager. Anyone who has gone through the process of “kicking” knows you don’t just cold-turkey a medication, most any medication; especially Valium, which is an especially hard drug to come off of. And coming off it suddenly can have disastrous, and sometimes fatal, results.
Cut to Paris on March 18, 1982: and Andy Partridge is having a complete and total meltdown on stage, forcing the band to cut the set short. But because they were on tour, the next stop was L.A. and the Hollywood Palladium. It was hoped the process of detox would be short and things would get back to normal. Sadly, no. With resulting short-term memory loss, limb seizures and uncontrolled fits of anxiety, the band, once again had to cancel the concert, just before going on and abruptly cancelled the rest of the tour and touring all together.
So it is highly possible most people didn’t get the chance to see XTC in concert. Luckily, there are several great-sounding concerts during the early, formative period – and this is one of them. Two encores are missing due to tape constraints, and a couple of songs which were released commercially from this concert, were excised. But this concert is a wonderful slice of a band who were truly unique and solidly in the lineup of groups who made a big difference in the 1980s.