It was a truly magical night. This is what Ed (ColinEd) Percival had to say about it:
Thanks to the lovely folks who turned up to see us last night. It was by some distance the largest London audience for an XTC tribute to date. It was wonderful to see a mix of old friends and new.
And it almost didn’t happen. Sadly our man Dan wasn’t able to make the gig (he’ll be back!) so we had two choices, cancel and refund (some folks had arranged travel from the USA) or to look for help from the XTC community.
We were so pleased that we went with the latter. XTC attracts extraordinary musicians.
Steve Tilling is well known to us through TC&I and we’d had a great time supporting CIRCU5 the night before (as our alter-ego Mellotronanism) at the Water Rats. He’s a lovely bloke and a great singer and guitarist. If he’s good enough for Colin and Terry, that’s recommendation enough. Thankfully he was available and he willingly agreed to help and said he hoped we might get a chance to do a run-through at sound check. In fact, we barely did a couple of half songs in prep. What the audience saw was first-take stuff. And it was great. I got the watch for a couple of numbers, which is a first in 20-odd xtc shows.
And then there’s Imogen Bebb. A regular contributor to the Facebook groups, practicing moody selfies, she had started posting about supporting an OMD tribute. So why not, I thought and offered her the chance to open in the hope that she might be persuaded to help us out. In a couple of shared messages she revealed that she played keyboards and very quickly she was signed up to be Barry for us. She came all the way from Kidderminster to be part of it. Rehearsal hadn’t been an option as I’d previously rather rashly booked a couple of weeks of Spanish holiday, just before the gigs. Once again, we didn’t get much chance to do a run-through and we had some problems hearing the keyboard in the monitor, so we held our breaths. I was immensely calmed by her lovely solo set. Imogen has such a lovely voice and her delicate songs draw you in. When her Barry slot began, it was immediately clear she had both the chops and had done her homework. We could not have hoped for a better person. And her rendition of Towers of London was fabulous.
Julie Matthews had attended the previous night show and told me that Margaret would be coming down for our gig. On the spur of the moment I suggested that she would be welcome to sing a song. And boy, what a fine job she made of Peter Pumpkinhead. She hadn’t been on the stage before. I only told the other guys between sets.
Like many of you, I’d been deeply impressed by the videos that Jake Crawford had posted, playing things such as Wrapped in Grey. So once again, I made a plea via messenger. He readily agreed, albeit communication seemed a bit sparse, so we weren’t actually sure that he’d turn up. In fact he was touring Europe, playing to thousands, on drums. We did get one rehearsal at which it was immediately obvious that he was ridiculously talented and a lovely guy to boot. I willingly surrendered all my favourite solos to a man who can play more notes per second than I do per minute. Standing in the middle of the stage, one is aware of the eyes of the audience. Once Jake was singing and playing, the entire audience was glued to him. Magnificent.
So with all these fun and games around us, Matt, Terry and I had been both quite nervous beforehand and absolutely pooing ourselves. On the night we decided to go for it, opening with an untried three-piece version of Complicated Game. After that, what could possibly go wrong?
As it turned out. Nothing.
So we missed our chum Dan, but what we and the XTC family got was another of those crazy, amazing nights where folks gather together to celebrate the best band ever.