Whilst we've now performed 61 XTC songs live, we've tried many more. We all have our own opinions, but these are just mine. I should point out that I'm not a real bass player, just the third best guitarist in the X-sTatiC. Songs are arranged in alphabetical order, but not necessarily by the correct titles!
Regarding future sets, we've discussed whole evenings based on particular albums, or obscure links like all the opening and closing songs on the albums. Who knows what will happen next, or when it will be. Whatever happens it'll involve lots of debate and far too little rehearsal!
"You must be kidding", we told Dan when he suggested we do this for the acoustic night that was our fourth gig. No strings attached, just Dan and Mick's intertwining guitars.
At the gig, the crowd went "AAAHH" in the closing - "1000 umbrellas open, 2000 umbrellas open..." bit.
All of a Sudden
Crawford (our original bass player) suggested this one, and we never saw him again! He made a comment that it would suit my voice and so I went back and listened to it endlessly at home. Not an easy task to mix it with playing bass. We tried it for a couple of rehearsals, but it never really came alive.
UPDATE: We resurrected this for the acoustic night. I switched to guitar and Dan was able to bring the bassline which it needs to hang together, being a very open song structure. I knew it was going to work when I forgot the "whohohohohohho" bit over the opening chords and the audience filled in.
Mick brought this in for the acoustic night, and Adrian does the drum pattern superbly. Perfection, were it not for the constant bass cock-ups. How can a simple song be so tricky?
Are You Receiving Me?
A very late entry into the set for our debut, we played this as an encore. We would have done so at the second gig, but a curfew intervened. Early period XTC may just be growing on me after all.
UPDATE: Having run out of time at gigs 2 to 4 to actually play it, Mick put this back in the setlist for the Victoria. Went down well, but the opening riff is a stretch for the bass and I missed it. I also got carried away, so was late for the closing riff. Dan sounds eerily like Partridge in the verses.
Ball and Chain
Been around since early rehearsals. I think everyone has had a go at singing it. I used to play the keyboards on this, but since we became a four piece, Dan and I have been singing the keyboard line. We hope for crowd participation on this bit!
UPDATE: Gone down well at all the electric gigs. X-sTatiC audiences can SING!
A personal favourite of Mick's. Took a great deal of persuading from the guys to get me to do it. Places the bassist at risk from repetitive stress injuries doing the duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh bass riff for so long.
Books Are Burning
Played at the first rehearsal and until Crawford left. A personal favorite. Memorable moment was at the first rehearsal where Dan abandoned the drum kit to Crawford, Mick picked up the bass and Dan grabbed my trusty 1973 Gibson SG and demonstrated that as well as being a brilliant drummer he could also play all the solos at the end! Made mental note not to lend him my guitar, ever again, but the genie was out of the lamp!
Burning With Optimism's Flames
Another inclusion for the second gig and I song which I've never been that fond of, but which improves through playing. A testing challenge for any bass player and doubly so for a novice. When we were preparing for the first gig we watched the Rockpalast video and couldn't believe that anyone could do Gregsy's lightning fast ascending runs. Cometh the hour, cometh the man - step forward Dan 'Mr.Guitar' Barrow.
UPDATE: At the Victoria, my hands still singing from playing the Dance Band bass line, Dan was yelling, "Let's get on with it!" So without the aid of my Tippex fret markers, which had washed off with the sweat, we were like a hare. I finally got the high bass right the third time through!
Church of Women
Added for the acoustic night, and such a success that we added it as an encore on the following night at the Vic. A great crowd participation number.
Being an English Settlement recruit to XTC, I never really paid much attention to the earlier albums (I didn't own the first 2 until this year). Thus I don't think I had ever heard this song. We started doing it 'After Crawford' (hereinafter denoted by A.C.) when I was playing most of the bass, no longer willing to suffer the pained looks where I attempted to play guitar in front Mick and Dan who know all the right chords. I busked along when Dan and Mick started playing it and then took a listen and fell in love with it - it's great to play on bass and I think it's one of Dan's best vocal performances. I guess it's a case of leaving songs written by angst-y young men to other angst-y young men!
Adrian is particularly good on this one!
UPDATE: A live highlight - Dan plus audience. His scream at the end makes this Noddy impersonator jealous.
Came out of the 'select a song' file. Relatively simple and really effective. We closed the first set of the Swindon debut with this. It felt weird playing the bass in front of Colin's wife and son, but for once I didn't make any major cock-ups. Afterwards she gave me a hug and thanked me.
My favourite song, and the one I chose to record in the style of an out-take of Dark Side of the Moon for the forthcoming King For A Day tribute. Since this band has been going I've found out the right chords! A rarity in that it is an A.C. number and I get to play acoustic on this and to show off my Roland guitar synth (which produces damn fine cello sounds). Everybody gets to sing a verse, so that any religious maniacs have a choice of who to attack! It's taken some work, but it's sounding pretty good now. Hoping we get a gremlin free live performance.
UPDATE: First gig went smoothly, but rested for the second outing. I'm sure we'll bring it back.
UPDATED UPDATE: Brought back for the acoustic night, with me doing the verses and Mick singing the angry bit which is out of my range. I now have many more favourite XTC songs, but this is still the closest to lyrical perfection.
Earn Enough For Us
Been playing this since the early days, originally with me singing and playing guitar. Now Dan leads it. A current casualty of time constraints for the first gig, which is a shame, cause we do a pretty good job of it.
UPDATE: Well it made the first gig after all and received the only less than glowing praise of the night. By the time of the first Swindon gig we'd stripped out some clutter and it went swimmingly. It has, however, been 'rested' since.
We've dabbled, no more than that.
Funk Pop A Roll
We've not even dabbled. Mick remains hopeful.
UPDATE: Finally included by the time we got to the Dublin Castle. Hailed as best-song-of-night by someone who's name I can't remember now.
UPDATED UPDATE: I really enjoyed doing this one at the Victoria. Mick has pointed out that there's an open hit of the strings somewhere, but details like that slip by when I'm shouting away. I finally worked out where it happens, so will try to do it next time.
[Ed. That'll be 'Then She Appeared' you're thinking of. M. :-) ]
Garden of Earthly Delights
This was tried out for the Vic, but didn't make the cut. A very difficult groove to nail. I had to detune the bass to get the riff going and Mick was using a harmoniser to replace the guitar synth bits. Might be back with some more rehearsal.
Generals and Majors
Coming together very well and in the set near the end. Didn't really start playing until A.C. Mick sings in his best Colin.
UPDATE: At the eleventh hour, Mick and I did a trade of Towers for Generals, so I get to sing our set closer. I must get around to learning the words! We were rehearsing for the second gig with the Iraq invasion on our minds when I got the idea too add a 'Melt The Guns' harmony on the closing section. When you sing Generals and Majors over the top it's like those songs in musicals where two people are singing different things at once and it just works so well.
UPDATED UPDATE: Transferred back to Mick to sing. Only right and proper that as the longest standing XTC fan in the band, he should sing the last song.
I spent ages learning a keyboard part, but we never have got around to playing this. A shame - we haven't got anything from Mummer yet.
UPDATE: In the flood of new songs tackled for the Swindon weekend, many Mummer moments made it (try saying that at speed). I really enjoyed singing this one. Who needs keyboards?
Busked a couple of times, Dan and Mick like it, but grumpy bass player currently exercising veto. Ranks alongside Omnibus as my least favorite XTC song.
UPDATE: Finally allowed into the set as part of the horsetrading which allowed Pumpkinhead out of the closet. Dan and Mick love it. Maybe it will grow on me, it's nice to not have to concentrate so hard for a couple of minutes.
Here Comes President Kill Again
Rehearsing for the second gig and with the hostilities in Iraq, this song fitted so perfectly it just had to be in the set. Mick sings his heart out. The stripped down version works well IMHO. As we went on stage, 1000 cruise missiles landed in Baghdad.
Mick did this one for the acoustic night, demonstrating his remarkable ability to find out the correct chords. Very pretty. Nice to have some Nonsuch material.
I'd Like That
Tried a couple of times A.C. but a bit subtle for the rock sounds of X-sTatiC.
UPDATE: Ahh, but not for the unsubtle acoustic set, which we opened with this. The bass line is a real bugger.
Into the Atom Age
I got out voted on this one, but now it's in the set it'll do. The closest thing to punk you can go before you get gobbed on. A breather for the bass player, but not for poor old Adrian. Dan keeps yelling "Faster! Faster!"
Jason and The Argonauts
A memorable one-off attempt with Dan and Mick when Crawford was still with us, but hadn't shown up.
UPDATE: We rehearsed this for the Victoria, but it got its debut the night before at the request of our fill-in drummer, one Lee Moulding, on his actual wedding day! We couldn't say no. He knows his way around the song, particularly the dub bit in the middle. Sadly, as the video and mini disc were shut off by that time, it will have to live only in the memory of the 30 or so people who were still there half an hour after the gig. Adrian showed how to do it á la Chambers at the Vic.
Another Mick acoustic number. He plays and sings damn well. The bass line is damn tricky so I feel that I'm letting the side down on this one. Played at the acoustic night.
Life Begins at the Hop
Our original choice for set opener, we've got this one nailed down - assuming I remember to do the right harmonies.
UPDATE: Rested for the Swindon weekend. Then who turns up? So the Mouldings witnessed a whole set without a Moulding song! They took it in good part, even invited us to the evening wedding reception, but some of the Swindon posse weren't so happy. Sorry.
The first Dukes number we added to the set for the Dublin Castle gig. A real bastard for the bass player. I play all the right notes, not necessarily in the right order.
Making Plans For Nigel
Took us ages to get around to playing this. Had to do it really, and now an enjoyable experience. I get to do the 'full Colin' (sing and play bass) - the only place where I do this on the right song.
UPDATE: I'm not allowed to rehearse this any more. So every outing has a tinge of 'What happens next?'
Love on a Farm Boy's Wages
I love it. Mick doesn't. However, I got to play and sing it on the acoustic night. I rely heavily on Mick to get the subtleties of the guitar lines.
Mayor of Simpleton
We've done this probably more than any other song - at every single rehearsal and it continues to be a huge challenge. We've had to rearrange it to make it sound passable. Dan gets to show off his bass playing (yes, he's good at that as well, damn him). After several breathless attempts we've established that the vocals can't be done in a single take - so Mick has nobly stepped forward to take over the middle eight, allowing me to catch my breath.
Another A.C. discovery - like Complicated Game. Solid as a rock.
UPDATE: We put this in a medley at the start of the set, with 'Life Begins at the Hop' and 'This is Pop'. It's my favourite of the three because you can really let rip with the bass and slide into the notes. By the time of gig two, Mick got around to learning the words and was amazed to find what it was all about. He was pacing up and down about 5 minutes before we start. Woolworth's Beauty!
Mole From the Ministry
A Dukes song in my vocal range! Really enjoyed doing this one on the acoustic night. One of the Swindonians told us we'd massacred a dukes song that night, so it was this or Albert Brown.
No Language in our Lungs
I think this was Crawford's favorite and it's great to do as a bass player though, being Captain Amnesia, I frequently start the ascending bass line in the eight at the wrong place. I hope that we can get the crowd to shout 'NOW' at the appropriate point. Dan does it justice on the vocals.
UPDATE: Dan excels on the vocals!
No Thugs in our House
Had a couple of attempts, but not currently in our plans. Apparently not the simple chords I though they were (just like all the other XTC songs). Mick is patient and shows you how every time, but the thing with amnesia is...
UPDATE: When we were selecting new songs for the second gig, we each nominated 5 songs we wanted to do and 5 we didn't. 3 of us voted for this and one against. I'm delighted that democracy prevailed, because I finally have a song in the right key which I can belt out in my best Andy meets Noddy style. Mick, Dan and Adrian pound along like a freight train. Here to stay I think.
One of the Millions
As the spooky world of X-sTatiC rolls on, we are continually amazed how many huge XTC fans there are. Would you fly a couple of thousand miles to see a tribute band? No, nor would I, but forum members Orit & Ofer would and have done so twice. Only fitting therefore that as they go under the forum names "One of the Millions" and "Melt the Guns" then we ought to do something special for them.
Dan worked out the complicated bass-line, Mick does the difficult guitar and the singing (well above my range), I just smile, strum and harmonise (that's singing out of tune in a special way). They seemed very touched by our performance and much hugging and kissing followed.
This band isn't about money, and though the ego polishing is very nice the real story is the focus it seems to have provided for fans of XTC to meet face to face and become friends. It is a privilege to be part of something so strong. Long may it last.
Been there since the beginning. Dan and I have sung it. I like it, particularly when we play it a bit faster than the original. Sadly I think I'm on my own on this one, shame.
UPDATE: Let me tell the tale of Peter Pumpkinhead. We played it at the first meeting of the X-sTatiC clan. OK, so I didn't really know the chords, or the words (still never stopped me!), but I thought it had something.
As the months passed and the stop-start process continued, so the song fell by the wayside. Every so often I'd raise the suggestion and get increasingly pained expressions from my fellow X-sTatiCees.
By the time we sat down with the 50 or so new songs suggested for this pair of gigs, I held out little hope. However, I decided compromise might work. How about we do Helicopter and Outside World, which are my least favourite XTC songs, in return for three-quarters of Peter Pumpkinhead?
Inevitably it was touch and go, having cracked the early stuff, we finally gave Peter P a go with about 4 hours of rehearsal time remaining. Thankfully, despite misgivings and mindful of the battle of 'The Disappointed' (a partial ColinEd victory for the last gig, though it didn't really work on the night) there was much biting of tongues.
On the night, it was hot and sticky and as I took over the guitar from Dan for my first lead of the night I was aware of a flood of feelings. Dan said something about the fights, but my mind was fixed on giving as good as I could. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I wrote a dream setlist into Chalkhills in 1997, this was the opener.
I turned my back to the audience and hit the opening da-da-dang-dang. It might just be my imagination, but I felt a wave of energy gushing out from the audience. I'm pretty sure that around 140 people said, "Let's begin".
The rest is a blur, I got caught up in the moment and even started the third verse (the one we weren't doing) so, "Peter Pumpkinhead put to shame, had him nailed to a chunk of wood", was the strangled first couplet. Later Dan told me: "I thought, good for him - he's gonna do the whole thing".
During the break a couple of people thanked me for doing the song.
After the show, and as we made our way down to the Swandown Hotel where the Forum guys were still partying, I was still harbouring thoughts of taking up the invite we'd received to drop in at the Moulding wedding reception. However, democracy had prevailed and I was cursing that I'd missed my chance to meet a real live XTC member.
I climbed out of Mick's car and heard the singing from 50 yards away. As Mick got out, I said, "Do you hear that?". Do I need to mention what song they were singing?
I followed the rest of band into the hotel. Kissing glue needed.
Our sole - so far - attempt at something from Wasp Star, Mick has the riff off pat, but Dan's not convinced we (that means me) can handle the vocal subtleties. Currently on the back burner.
UPDATE: The most requested song on the 'select a song' section of the site. So once again the majority prevailed. I tried to sing and failed. Mick tried vocals next in the hope that Dan would prefer the song if he could play the riff. In the end Dan accepted the inevitable and sung it, without an instrument in his hand. He's got by far the strongest voice in that register. I'm still working on the subtleties of the bass. At gig two we gave it a good shot, complete with backing vocals from Holly Partridge - next time we'll get her on stage. Afterwards she complained we were missing some of the harmonies.
Radios In Motion
Another new discovery for the amnesiac bass fumbler. Really rocking now and will be our set opener.
UPDATE: ...or set closer at the Vic.
Mick sings this, and damn well! Can't understand why he's reluctant. Rocking along nicely and definitely a big song at the end of the set.
UPDATE: We love it. Goes down a storm and we were overwhelmed when the crowd started singing the intro, just like on Transistor Blast.
Roads Girdle The Globe
An unusual choice for the acoustic evening, by young Dan. Not a favourite of mine, but it grows on you. What are those lyrics about??
Dead simple and knocked off in a couple of goes - a live classic. Sung by Adrian with other members playing an assortment of ancient percussion instruments. Mick does a fine nose flute solo and Dan leaps into the crowd. There again, I might have dreamed that. Okay, I admit it, we've not even had a go at a single chord of this, but bizarrely it remains on the wish list.
UPDATE: Mick came up with an arrangement on guitars and I suggested that Ade should sing it, given the success of his only vocal performance to date (why isn't he singing harmonies dammit?). Buffed and ready for the Dublin Castle #2, but it wasn't the right moment so it will have to wait a while longer.
A couple of goes A.C., no more.
UPDATE: Second song of the acoustic night and damn fine too.
The first time we had a go at this was at a get-together in early 2004, during our 9-month Dan teacher training/fathering break. We’d spent an hour or so struggling with "Garden of Earthly Delight" (including in a country music style) and were running out of steam. This seemed to click pretty quickly. Another couple of run-throughs and it was the second number of our second Dublin Castle show.
Mick replaces the keyboard lines with some squiggly guitar and it punches off like a good ‘un. Dan sets harder and harder tasks for Adrian by putting fast early songs together. Ade has to stop and wave his arms about between them, poor bugger.
Senses Working Overtime
Done this every time. My chance to be Andy for a day. Mick has all the Rickenbacker bits nailed down, thanks to email exchanges with Dave Gregory. My my!
UPDATE: Two gigs and three performances. I've never seen so many people singing along to a song. I don't think I'll ever forget the expression on Holly Partridge's face as I sang this in Swindon.
Seagulls Screaming Kiss Kiss Her
Dan kept suggesting this and we kept ignoring him, until with hours to go to the second gig he played an acoustic, slowed-down version. We struggle to hold back the horsepower, but the arrangement reveals a previously hidden beauty in this song. Well done mate.
Mick shares Andy's view of this. We've been doing it for a couple of weeks and it's touch and go if it makes the set, but I think it's well on the way.
UPDATE: It did make the set, as an encore each time. It may not be accurate, or even remotely tidy, but by that stage we are running on pure adrenaline.
Ship Trapped In The Ice
Even the Fuzzy Warbles aren't safe from the hands of the X-sTatiCs! We opened the second acoustic set with this, having managed to dissuade Dan from adding in a 'What do we do with the drunken sailor' motif. At this point in my life, this sounds like my theme tune.
Mick's choice for the acoustic evening. And very appropriate to play it in Swindon. I will always associate the 'Brand new catalogue nylon nightie' line with the Hereford posse who turned up for the first Riff's gig and watched the whole show from the ladies toilets (stage right).
Played and rejected for gig one. Then, and this time it was Mick out-voted by the others, another English Settlement song made the second gig and damn well it went too! An unlikely dance number, but people were bouncing along to it. A tricky one to pull off, but I'm very glad we did.
Statue of Liberty
Dropped in the run up to the first gig and then reconstituted to feature in both gigs of the Swindon weekend - one of only 8 to make it into both performances. The acoustic version had shades of the Joe Jackson cover (but much better) whereas the electric one zipped along rather splendidly. Mick lead the massed crowds on both occasions. Bound to feature again.
Mick's played the riff, nobody has joined in.
Dabbled with it at the first rehearsal - worked out a bit of keyboard, put it back in the drawer marked, 'hmmm...'
UPDATE: Brought back out of the drawer for the acoustic gig, albeit with a radically different arrangement, courtesy of Dan the Man.
Ten Feet Tall
Crawford really liked this - said it makes him happy. He was on his own here. Not part of the A.C. world.
The Condensed Big Express
The plan was to edit together the middle sections of each of the songs for possibly the greatest middle eight in history! Not ready yet but watch this space...
The first song we played. It was like magic - in one step XTC turned from being something I listened to into a three-dimensional, all enveloping breathing beastie. We played it fast and loose and it seemed to be going the right way, but somehow it seems to have been dropped along the way. Who is the Disappointed? Me.
UPDATE: Grumpy bass player threw toys out of pram and was generally pigheaded until it was played (for the first and last time) at the Dublin Castle. OK, so it maybe didn't work...
Mick and I saw Dave Gregory do this with the H Band. I loved it, Mick remarked that it might have been nice if they'd perhaps rehearsed it first? Not part of current plans.
UPDATE: Determined to get this one in the set I decided to grab the guitar for this. The solo is easy and Mick does all the complicated bits. Ade hates the song, but as usual complains far less noisily than some of us! We don't do a bad job of it, at least when we have some monitors we can hear. Sadly for its first outing it was the Dublin Castle #2 and my singing was horrendously flat. Hopefully it will get a second chance. Thankfully Dan sings the high bits.
Then She Appeared
Like 'All Of A Sudden', we tinkled, it sounded good, but quietly fell by the wayside.
UPDATE: ..until we were adding electric numbers to the set for the Victoria. Tricky to do, but I enjoyed it. I insist on singing the verses, but I can't do Beach Boys, which is where it's nice to have singers as talented as Mick and Dan to take over the high bits.
This Is Pop
I take heart that Crawford (a proper bass player) couldn't figure out the bass notes either. It seems to work with a random selection on the bottom two strings. Despite the vagaries, it still sounds like a monster!
Towers of London
Dan used this as the demo, with him singing and doing everything on it. Live, I get to sing it and Dan gets to do the great riff. It works.
UPDATE: Mick asked if he could sing this as it is close to his heart (maybe it's because he's a Londoner). He does it brilliantly. Somebody said they levitated the first time we played it live. A highspot of the Victoria gig.
Did this a few times - with Mick singing. Needs a real bass player.
Opened the second set of the Vic gig. How on earth Adrian gets the drum intros right amazes me. Dan is convinced this is the closest we've sounded to XTC. He clearly is ignoring the slight **cough** delay each time the bass comes in. Download it and make your own mind up!
When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty
Added to the set for The Vic. Fell into place pretty quickly. Fun to play, but I'm not quite sure about this one. Only time will tell.
Played at the acoustic night. Needs a little something extra - Hey, maybe the bass player needs to work out the right bass line! There again, where on earth will that get us?
Another one-off extravaganza with the intertwining guitars of Dan and Mick. Not visited recently.
UPDATE: Having decided to try some more acoustic stuff for the second gig, we went back to this and it clicked straight away. The rhythms cross back and forth and Dan does a great Partridge.
You And The Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful
A rare excursion into Wasp Star territory. Adrian suggested it for the acoustic night, so we said, 'OK - You sing it'. And do you know, he did. And do you know who got the biggest round of applause of the night? Dan shows off his drumming and Mick and I get the groove going. Cool.
You're a Good Man Albert Brown
The most fun I had at the acoustic night. Sadly lacking a spoon solo and Mick got the giggles when Adrian was shouting out the colours - "Red", "Gold", etc.
You're The Wish You Are I Had
A tricky bass part, particularly so early in the acoustic set. Dan persisited and we eventually did a reasonable job. Who knows if we'll repeat an extended acoustic set / evening?
Ed Percival. Last updated 12 July 2004. firstname.lastname@example.org