XTC CONVENTION IN MANCHESTER 20 YEARS AGO TODAY!
In the 60's Swindon lads Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory
were brought up on the music of the day and heavily influenced by The Beatles
they chose to emulate their heroes and form a band - XTC.
Signing for Virgin Records in the mid 70's they dreamed of a 'Beatlesque'
worldwide domination and 'getting the girls' according to Andy.
A desire driven by catchy pop songs which, when delivered 'live', were as
electrifying as their early high-energy pop albums.
By 1981 they had a string of great hits behind them such as 'Science Friction', 'Life Begins At The Hop', 'Making Plans for Nigel', 'Generals and Majors' and 'Sgt Rock'.
In 1982 their 'English Settlement' double album had been released and with a mega-hit single 'Senses Working Overtime' they were set for a sell out world tour and domination!
Their songwriting was developing away from anything new wave producing melodies and hooks a plenty. They were exciting and the best band on the planet for me.
But at the very beginning of the 'English Settlement' tour Andy developed stage fright
which became so severe the tour was cancelled and shelved indefinitely.
The result was they lost their drummer Terry Chambers and the band
retreated to the studio to become an albums only band.
Back then if you were not high profile doing tours you were not in the top ten
and that is where the group suffered long term.
However, this did not stop them from producing a string of major pop albums that
are today 'cult' status and a hidden gem in British pop music.
They are a musician's band also with great respect that
I urge you to check out one of their re-issues coming soon.
But where is this leading you ask?
Well simply in 1989 I organised the first ever XTC Music And Friends Convention
in Manchester, which ran for 4 years.
The results of who gathered are in this photo, were you there...?
Here's some great trivia though and a real Manchester connection:
John Leckie produced many of XTC's albums and is an enormous fan of the band.
So much so he came up from London to appear as special guest at the
first convention staying at The Trafford hall Hotel, Old Trafford.
(He's right of Frank Sidebottom in the photo above)
The morning after over breakfast we were chatting and he looked
out of the window and saw a sign for Chorlton.
Upon seeing this he laughed to say the group he was working with were from Chorlton.
In fact he had broke away from a recording session with The Stone Roses who themselves were XTC fans. And the session he broke from was for 'Fool's Gold'!
Unbelievable when you look back now eh?! Smashing fella though who I met again at RAK Studios when he was producing Big Country a few years later.
Anyway 2009 is the 20th Anniversary of the first Convention and I wanted to have the fact noted on the site because Andy. Colin and Dave are massive Beatle fans as I have said.
When I reflect on the Convention years I was able to meet, socialise and sit in with the group members and their families. Very fortunate and wonderful warm generous folk believe me.
I stayed overnight amidst Gold Discs and enjoyed their company recording
interviews and sessions in Andy's studio.
The resulting material was presented on screen at the conventions for fans to enjoy.
The group saw this as thank you for their loyalty and I feel
privileged that I was able present this.
To note at the time their record label was non-to active in the publicity stakes despite the release of the amazing double album 'Oranges And Lemons'.
The publicity for the Convention however saw articles in the NME which I was chuffed about and Jon Ronson came along interviewing fans for radio.
Incidentally, 'Oranges and Lemons' album spawned the Beatlesque 'The Loving'
and 'Mayor Of Simpleton' singles. Check the album out, it's great!!
So that's it for now. There's plenty more stuff which may spawn a separate XTC in Manchester website and another convention maybe …I don't know?
All I know is XTC are well worth checking out especially Beatle fans as the groups
influence is ever present in their work.
For details email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Wilde 2011