A hand written flyer found on social media provides evidence of a comeback gig by High Wycombe’s perennial punks, The Xtraverts, at High Wycombe’s Multi-Racial Centre on Friday 27th April 1979. The flyer shows the headline act as Wadada, with additional support from Plastic People.
At the time of this gig, then 21-year-old lead singer Nigel Martin was the only founder member from the original version of The Xtraverts, who had spawned from the ‘post-Bill Grundy’ era of late 1976 and first known to have gigged mid-way through 1977. The band continued to play live in and around High Wycombe and London but split-up shortly after the release of their debut single, Blank Generation (recorded in late 1977 and released in January 1978).
Martin returned to the stage briefly with a new band, Mirage – supporting 999 at The Town Hall on 20th December 1978 – but the resurrection of The Xtraverts coincides with what is often described as the ‘second-wave of punk’ during 1979 – with bands including The Ruts and a reformed Damned driving the local interest (particularly amongst teenagers) following their appearance at the Town Hall on 18th April 1979.
The line-up of the new look Xtraverts at the time of this gig is believed to be, Nigel Martin (vocals), Steve Westwood (guitar), Mark Chapman (bass) and David Lee (drums). Lee was replaced on drums later in the year by Andy Crawford but not before an infamous gig supporting The Lurkers at High Wycombe Town Hall on 6th June 1979.
The Plastic People were another local ‘punk’ band – this time headed by Gary Quelch (guitar and vocals). The remainder of the line-up at the time of this gig is believed to be Steve Hyland (guitar), Pete Hyland (drums) and Glen Spicer (guitar and vocals). Anybody with more accurate information, please get in touch and I will update this post accordingly.
What we do know about Plastic People is that they went on to release a joint double ‘A’ sided single with The Xtraverts– their contribution, ‘Demolition’, appearing alongside The Xtraverts’, ‘Police State’. It was released in November 1979 on Rising Sun records- Rising Sun being a record stall in High Wycombe Fayre, an indoor market on the site of what was previously Woolworth’s in Church Street and what would become The Chiltern Centre in the mid 1980’s.
From my own memories, I recall seeing both bands several times in 1979 at local venues, including the Multi-Racial Centre and SU bar. On each occasion the tribal following gathered pace, with much of their fan base drawing from recent school leavers and other teenagers who had been too young to witness the original punk explosion or were just simply unaware of the underground culture taking place on their doorstep.
At the time this flyer came to light (some 40 years after the gig) there was little, to no, information on the billed headline act Wadada. However, the beauty of the internet has pointed me into the direction of a Michael Wadada who, in 1979, began collaboration with High Wycombe based Adrian Sherwood, creator of the On-U-Sound record label. Unfortunately, Michael has no re-collection of the gig, so maybe the name of the act is just a coincidence. Anybody with any more information, please get in touch.
For the time being, I will leave you with a picture of the Multi-Racial Centre.
This venue took over from The Newlands Club as a relatively small capacity, non-pub venue, in the Town Centre. It was situated under the Abbey Way flyover, at the end of Paul’s Row. If you left the venue and made your way under the flyover, you would reach the entrance to the college buildings where gigs also took place in the main hall and SU Bar. The site of the re-developed ‘Gateway Building’, opened in 2009, is built on the location of the main hall where The Sex Pistols played their infamous High Wycombe gig in February 1976.