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TC&I –Swindon Arts Centre (October 2018)

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TC&I –Swindon Arts Centre (October 2018)

Posted on 07 November 2018 by John Haylock

Last week XTC were literally only half the band they used to be, in terms of personnel at any rate, when bassist, vocalist and songwriter Colin Moulding and drummer Terry Chambers, together with a polished ensemble of musicians,  performed a week of gigs at Swindon Arts Centre as TC&I.

But put it this way, two of the members of XTC on stage is like two of The Beatles (in this case MaCartney and Starr) doing a gig in a shed. You quite simply have to be there if the opportunity arises.

OK, so there was no appearance from XTC’s other songwriter and guitarist Andy Partridge, for understandable reasons after suffering a breakdown on stage in 1982. And there was no Dave Gregory, whose guitar interplay with Partridge was a hallmark of the band.

However, just to get Colin and Terry onstage for the first time for decades is a feat of mega proportions.

TC&I 1

XTC were the clever clogs’ choice back in the day. They had a seemingly endless supply of hugely enjoyable tunes, complete with whistling solos and lyrics that were deeper than a fracking site in Lancashire.

Being hip and groovy I of course loved them to pieces. But I never saw them live. Lots of nearlies but never live. This was going to be a colossal love in.

Despite the efforts of a local hostelry to poison us with some overpriced food beforehand we entered the venue with uncontained excitement. It was like being 16 again.

Historic and triumphant return to the stage

Swindon Arts Centre is the opposite of the Tardis. It is smaller on the inside than on the outside and holds just two hundred people. Unimaginative reviewers would call it intimate. It is intimate.

As for the show the words historic and triumph are most apt.

TC&i 3

Some careful thought had been put into the structuring of the show.  They could have just torn into 24 big hits. But no, they chose to ramp up the excitement slowly and inexorably toward the big hitters.

They came onto what sounded like the intro to Bungalow, then tentatively but increasingly confidently, picked up the pace to hit Drums and Wires (1979)’s Ten Feet Tall, via early forays into lesser known works such as Say It, from the Apple Venus (1999) era and Day in Day Out, also from Drums and Wires.

They do a TC&I track called Scatter Me. It’s a great song in show that was almost stolen by Wonderland, from Mummer (1983), which was absolutely exquisite. A perfect rendering of a perfect song.

Grass, from Skylarking (1986) was magnificent. The crowd were now getting a bit frisky and the usherettes (or torch ladies as they are affectionately known in the TC&I Facebook group) were having their work cut out stopping people taking photos and daring to dance.

One of my favourite XTC albums is Nonsuch, It was great to hear War Dance (sadly always relevant) and the sublime Smartest Monkey from this oft overlooked album. Colin also sang Bungalow from this album, which drew loud cheers as he proved he still has the voice.

TC& I 2

From then on it was a deliriously genteel trip down memory lane.

What’s that coming over the hill? Hits. Lots of them in quick succession. Ball and Chain, Generals and Majors ( I defy you not to whistle), Making Plans for Nigel (he’s still working for British steel, the Partridge penned Statue of Liberty and finally Life Begins at the Hop.

As the lights come up I have rarely seen so many beaming faces. The utter joy experienced by everyone was almost tangible.

This is pop, and we love it to bits.

Words by John Haylock, pictures (taken before stopped by torch ladies) by Arthur Hughes

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TC&I – Swindon Arts Centre (October 29, 2018)

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TC&I – Swindon Arts Centre (October 29, 2018)

Posted on 31 October 2018 by Joe

Spoiler: If you are going to one of the forthcoming TC&I shows please do not read on. Enjoy the surprises. If you’ve been or are not attending, read on.

On Monday October 29 in Swindon musical history was made.

Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers, the rhythm section of XTC, performed together on stage for the first time in 36 years as TC&I.

That will mean nothing to most people.

Colin wrote many of the bands early 1970s/80s hits, such as Making Plans for Nigel. That may garner a grunt of acknowledgement from some.

But to the 200 passionate XTC fans, who made the opening night of a sold out week long set of gigs at the Swindon Arts Centre, their appearance meant everything. Their whole world.

Almost every fan of the Wiltshire band, who finally split in 2000 after 18 years as a critical acclaimed studio band, has prayed to the gods of pop for them to reform and perform again.

With other songwriter Andy Partridge never to perform live again after suffering stage fright in 1982, Terry moving to Australia shortly afterwards, Colin largely shunning the music business for a number of years and guitarist Dave Gregory plying his trade in other acts, that has seemed an impossible dream.

But with Terry returning to the band’s home town recently and Colin dipping his toes more frequently into musical projects they left fans gobsmacked last year when they joined forces as TC&I with a four song EP of Colin songs. And best of all, this summer they announced they would give playing live a go once again.

Colin Moulding (l) and Terry Chambers (r)

Colin Moulding (l) and Terry Chambers (r)

All dates are sold out. They could have played non-stop for the rest of 2018 given the interest, but the Arts Centre panto takes precedence going into December.

Given the very long wait to see their idols, the atmosphere in the packed arts centre was understandably reverential, especially as some had travelled from around the world to attend.

The smiles when Colin and Terry arrived on stage was a moment of beauty.

Colin in the middle aged man’s uniform of cargo trousers and sensible walking shoes, looked more like he was about to nip down to Marks and Spencers to buy some new socks. His scarf and slight mullet the only hint that he has in fact played on Top of the Pops.

Chambers in white t-shirt, looked shy but itching to get behind his drum kit. They were joined by Steve Tilling on guitar, Colin’s son Lee on backing vocals and Gary Bamford on keyboards and guitars for a mammoth 24-song set,  full of the hits, new songs but also some surprises along the way.

Below is the full set list but here we will rattle through some of our particular high points.

Wonderland

What a revelation from 1983’s often overlooked album Mummer, which was sandwiched between two of their most ambitious collections  – English Settlement (1982) and the Todd Rundgren produced epic Skylarking (1986). Here the soft production of Mummer was cast aside and on stage with full band its melody had room to shine. This was the surprise high point for many I spoke to on the night.

Sacrificial Bonfire

Skylarking was well represented, as it should be with Rundgren upping the Moulding song count. Meeting Place, Big Day and Grass were great, but Sacrifical Bonfire was by far the best. Lovely to see Terry take a softer tone with this on a track that was new to him. Mind you, he made up for it by beating the beejesus out of Big Day later on.

Bungalow

Colin’ voice is beautifully preserved, as if kept in honey in his shed for decades, untainted by the rigours of relentless touring. He sounded great all night but Bungalow, which was largely just him and keyboards, was where audible gasps were heard around the enthralled room at the quality of his vocals.

Drums and Wires guitar interplay

The Drums and Wires album track segment early on of Day In, Day Out, That is the Way and Ten Feet Tall gave Steve and Gary a chance to recreate the classic guitar interplay of Andy and Dave. It was perfectly executed.

The hits

Colin also  knows how to write a hit. Making Plans for Nigel, Generals and Majors, Ball and Chain and Life Begins at the Hop were all performed and with his preserved voice it was as if the last 36 years had never happened. We were transported back to their chart bothering prime with only Colin and Terry’s white hair a give away that it was no longer 1982.

Scatter Me

Three of TC&I’s own tracks graced the set list but it was Scatter Me that may well stand the test of time and grace the next live shows in another 36 years. Colin embraces his mortality in perfect fashion as his ashes are spread around his favourite haunts.

Statue of Liberty

The talk before the gig was that Colin would be covering one of Andy’s XTC songs. Which would it be? Surprisingly it wasn’t Senses Working Overtime but Statue of Liberty, a pop gem from their debut album White Music with boop-boops galore . They sailed beneath this song’s skirt with gusto.

Andy chose to leave town during these gigs, especially as he lives nearby. It was probably a smart move. This is Terry and Colin’s week, but he is genuinely keen for the shows to be a success, passing on kind words via Twitter to the band. The XTC brand is at risk if they cock it up, so he has a stake in its success. Andy can be rest assured that the XTC brand is in safe hands.

TC&I set list

Say it

Day in, day out

That is the way

Ten Feet Tall

Greatness

Scatter Me

Wonderland

Where Did the Ordinary People Go?

Grass

Meeting Place

Sacrificial Bonfire

War Dance

Big Day

Bungalow

The Smartest Monkey

Cynical Days

Kenny

Ball and Chain

King for a Day

Standing in for Joe

Generals and Majors

Making Plans for Nigel

Encore – Statue of Liberty, Life Begins at the Hop.

Words by Joe Lepper

See Also: Ten bands that changed our lives – XTC

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