XTC were another band to return to the High Wycombe having played the town during their embryonic years. The Swindon based outfit had appeared twice at The Nag’s Head in 1977 and the gig at The Town Hall on Sunday 6th May 1979 was most likely a favour to promoter Ron Watts. Support on the night were local band The Ladykillers plus Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club. Attendees of the gig would have left the gig unware they had witnessed a live rendition of a future No.1 single in the UK charts.
Originally billed as support for the XTC gig were The Brian James Band. However, James, a former guitarist and founder member of The Damned, would not appear.
Support on the night came from High Wycombe band The Ladykillers – the latest outfit to include local boy Kris Jozajtis (ex Deathwish, The Pretty, Good Guys and Four Daughters) on guitar. Other band members were Stuart Rillstone (lead vocals), Ian Hutchby (bass) and Dave ‘Dudge’ Williams (drums). Jozajtis and Hutchby were the co-writers of the original songs featured in their set-list.
Kris Jozajtis recall for wycombegigs.co.uk that Rillstone came from Chorley Wood and had previously been in a band called Nuclear Rouge. Jozajtis, Williams and Hutchby had also played together in two other High Wycombe based bands, Good Guys and Four Daughters, but with Dom Williams on vocals. Four Daughters had supported The Rich Kids at High Wycombe Town Hall in September 1978 and the rock/pop style of Glen Matlock’s band is the best comparison I can come up with for The Ladykillers.
The Ladykillers set on 6th May 1979 is believed to have followed their live debut at The Nag’s Head earlier that year. The familiarity of some of the band members with the audience, plus songs recognised from their former groups, was a factor in The Ladykillers receiving a decent reaction from the audience at The Town Hall gig. Unusually for a first band on, they were called back for an encore and then promoter Ron Watts insisted they played one more song in ‘30 seconds’. I was delighted to be reminded of this incident while sorting through a number of live recordings from that era. A YouTube clip of the audio is posted at the foot of this article.
Ladykillers – set-list from my own records included the following – some titles guessed.
- Under The Skin
- Fear of the Night
- Mother Hates Me Hair
- You’ve Been Seeing Another Women
- Hear The Sound
- Bad Guys
- White Boys, Making Noise
As far as I can tell, The Ladykillers did not commit any of their songs to official recordings. They played further dates in the High Wycombe area during 1979 but appear to have split up before the end of the year. Kris Jozajtis would go on to join The Folk Devils in 1983.
Any other memories of The Ladykillers gratefully received.
The final support act were Camera Club, a relatively unknown band featuring Bruce Woolley on guitar and lead vocals, Matthew Seligman on bass, Rod Johnson on drums, Dave Birch (ex-Vibrators) on guitar and a 21 year old Thomas Dolby on keyboards.
Midway through their set that evening they would play a catchy song called ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ – a tune that Woolley penned with friends Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn in 1977. In September 1979 the same song would be released by The Buggles (featuring Downes and Horn) – it proved to be quite popular, reaching No.1 in the UK charts, plus topping the charts in at least nine other countries. For those at High Wycombe Town Hall on 6th May 1979, this would have been the first of many times they had heard the song. By chance, I manage to record the audio of that evening on fairly primitive equipment – it was a Boots ‘Walkman’ type device and was all I could afford at the time – being still at school. I’ve uploaded the audio to YouTube as an historical record.
Camera Club – set-list from my own records included the followin
- Flying Man
- Too Late For Tears
- Clean, Clean
- The Picture is Taken, The Glass is Broken
- Goodbye to Yesterday
- Video Killed The Radio Star
- No Surrender
- Dancing with the Sporting Boys
It would be fair to say that the reaction to their set at the Town Hall was mixed. The introduction of synthesisers and keyboards in a live environment so soon after the ‘punk’ explosion came as a surprise to many. However, fast-forward a few years, and the likes of Gary Numan, Human League, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark were all chart bound with a similar style – plus, of course, local boy Howard Jones, who was often compared to Thomas Dolby when he broke the charts in 1983.
The Camera Club set-list calls mainly from songs that would appear on their ‘English Garden’ LP released on Epic records in November 1979.
Meanwhile, returning to the The Town Hall in May 1979, headliners XTC were on their first tour since original keyboards player Barry Andrews had left the band. Andrews had been replaced with Dave Gregory, who also hailed from their hometown of Swindon, but in fact played guitar and not keyboards.
Andrews had been a member of XTC since 1976 and played with them during the two appearances at The Nag’s Head in 1977. The remaining members, Andy Partridge (guitar and vocals), Colin Moulding (bass) and Terry Chambers (drums) were those that made up the band with Gregory on the stage at the Town Hall in May 1979.
Gregory’s first work with XTC was on their new single ‘Life Begins at The Hop’, released on 27th April 1979. Considering their previous 7” releases (including, ‘This is Pop!’ and ‘Statue of Liberty’), it is surprising to find that this was their first single that troubled the UK charts – peaking at No.54 and prompting their first Top of the Pops appearance on 17th May 1979.
It was their persistence that finally earned them the chart success their creativity merited. They were using the April/May 1979 tour to debut some of the material that would feature on their August 1979 album release, ‘Drums and Wires’. One of the songs falling into that category and played at the Town Hall was, ‘Making Plans for Nigel’. Released as a single in September 1979 it reached No.17 in the UK charts but warranted much higher. ‘Computer errors’ have since been blamed for the single not reaching higher but the song remains an iconic pop tune and its distinctive drum and guitar sounds deserved so much more recognition at the time.
XTC – set-list from my own records
- Meccanik Dancing
- Making Plans For Nigel
- The Rhythm
- Roads Girdle The Globe
- Science Friction
- Life Begins At The Hop
- This Is Pop
- Battery Brides
- Cross Wires
- Outside World
- I’m Bugged
- Crowded Room
- Radios In Motion
- Are You Receiving Me
- Set Myself On Fire
- Dance Band (encore)
- Statue Of Liberty (encore)
The XTC set-list drew material from their three albums to date, their single back catalogue, plus previews of tracks from their yet to be recorded ‘Drums and Wires’ album.
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Under The Skin – The Ladykillers – live audio from High Wycombe Town Hall 6 May 1979
Video Killed The Radio Star – Camera Club – live audio from High Wycombe Town Hall 6 May 1979
WW9/Clean Clean – Camera Club – BBC Old Grey Whistle Test – 30 October 1979
Making Plans For Nigel – XTC – live video from Bristol Locarno 13 May 1979
Further reading and references: