Andy Partridge, Transistor Blast

Moments before a high-profile 1982 gig in Los Angeles, XTC frontman Andy Partridge told his bandmates that he would never play live again (his paralyzing stage fright had blossomed into full-blown panic attacks). That night, the members of XTC packed their bags, returned to England, and said goodbye to the stage.

For most groups, this would have meant instant breakup, but for the past 16 years, Partridge and company have continued to produce quirkily brilliant music from the relative safety of the recording studio. Too bad. From 1977 to ’82, it turns out that XTC was a pretty ferocious live band. This four-disc set features 52 rare performances culled from several hard-hitting London concerts and a handful of informal BBC radio gigs. Shaky, go-for-broke readings of new-wave anthems like “Life Begins at the Hop” and “Making Plans for Nigel” reveal XTC’s early punk roots, while the band’s dramatic attention to dynamics suggests future compositional sophistication. And no one sounds particularly nervous. Hardcore fans will probably have this material via illegal bootleg (though they’ll want Partridge’s liner-note mea culpa), but if you’re curious about a minor rock & roll tragedy, here’s a sonic elegy for the world’s most infamous prisoners of stage fright.

American Psycho
  • Movie
  • 103 minutes