Musician and writer Parsley was at The Victoria. His review of the gig for online magazine Artrocker follows.
Concert Review: X-sTatiC at Victoria Inn, Swindon, 20/09/03
Who is your favourite Doctor Who? Let me predict that it's the first one you ever watched (if you ever did). Similarly, depending on the first XTC album you ever listened to, you could have quite a different view of the band. Those of us that were around for punk / album White Music can see them as the 100mph purveyors of freakily delivered vocal contortions and weird pop noise in a liquidiser. Londoner Mick Casey, playing for XTC covers band X-sTatiC at a rare appearance in XTC's home town, got into them at their 4th album, Black Sea. He was moved in the hairs-on-back-of-neck way when singing 'Towers of London', because he found the appreciative international audience were all singing the 'La-la-Londinium' end sequence with him.
Having suffered a horrendously poor set of internet directions to find the place, whilst blitzing myself on listening to the originals, I was a little frazzled, and relieved that I made it in, cos the gig was sold out. I was hacked off to realise I missed a chunk of concert, including some favourite early numbers.
Sporting my zebra suit in honour of XTC wearing black and white on the sleeve of their first album, I was saddened that the craziness of the band had not corrupted the look of the audience. It didn't stop them singing along with the weird intonation vocals that make you sound like you're the crazy guy out of the 'Stop The Pigeon' cartoon. Only XTC can sing "Generals and Majors a-ha, like never before", and make you feel that in some way 'a-ha' logically fits with 'before'.
I'd been listening to a CD of the singles, and the band that couldn't do a disco-ish track because they kept laughing at their own backing vocals eventually got round to seriously mellow acoustic stuff, and sort of funky sounding stuff.
It was a definite 'fast forward' for me to the likes of the magnificent 'Mayor of Simpleton' where they re-claimed their new wave amazing pop songs crown. X-sTatiC delivered the songs that hadn't been played live with a faithful heart (original main man Andy Partridge contracted nerves and stopped performing). They added realistic 'live' interpretation, and were accompanied by overwhelming enthusiasm from an audience that delighted each other by finding they were singing along with crazy high backing vocals. Sometimes the band hit a wrong note, and good on them, cos that's what live is, and that's what love of someone else's songs being played live will make you do.
Great stuff. Next gig can't come too soon.
Parsley, Art Rocker 98, September 2003. firstname.lastname@example.org