XTC

my first proper gig
late seventies
fourteen maybe fifteen years old
XTC at The Affair, Swindon
we used to write
“XTC R NRG”
in the dust on cars
they were the most thrilling thing
to come from that town
they were my connection
to the zeitgeist
me and my mates
put safety pins in our clothes
and tried to punk it up a bit
the band’s effect on my nervous system
can’t fully be reckoned
the echoes
of the vertiginous excitement
reverberate still
a blast of power
right up close
that’s what a Catholic boy needs
raw decibels, invention and pace
to drive out the fakery
the polite suburban dream
exploded

years later
a motley assortment
some original members
including Barry my chum
at his glittering best
wheeled out some of the old tunes
in a packed pub
back in Swindon

they jammed the bit at the end
of ‘Making Plans for Nigel’
the bit that repeats
‘steel, steel, steel’
the whole crowd sang
shouted
bellowed in unison
‘STEEUL, STEEUL, STEEUL’

we were all wrinkly and fat
but that edge was suddenly back
the glee
the remembrance
the heartbreak
the zenith
the tragedy
of a nothing life
in a nothing town
and yet here we were
shoulder to shoulder
dancing
jumping
sweating
singing out
for our lost youth
our refound joy
an exuberant requiem
an ecstatic lament

steel

steel

steel

xtc