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Only The Mirrorball Shone More That Night

Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t expect Gavin Friday to read my blog. Hmmm, but maybe Caroline does, on his behalf. So, I don’t think his superb performance at Crossing Border 2011 in Antwerp was intended as an answer to my warm call for him to return to the stage as “vibrant performer”. I launched that call at the end of my thoughts on his new album catholic , that I considered as quite reticent, held-back and enigmatic.

And, I admit, it’s also a bit cheap to pretend he wouldn’t have done it without my request as we just know Gav sweats, lives and breathes his personae on stage like only Jacques Brel did long before him.

We started our evening by missing Gavin’s interview by our favorite music journalist, Bart Steenhaut. Our dinner, just outside of the Bourla theater at Le Coup Vert in the city was just too good. And, well, mr. Steenhaut had published an interview with Gav the same day so we guessed there weren’t too much revelations that we didn’t know of yet.

After the sounding of the church bells, Gavin and his band started of quite surprisingly with the Virgin Prunes classic Caucasian Walk, driven by bass drum and a slightly reworked bass guitar line and the soft-loud sound explosions (Hérésy style) and Gavin’s evolved singing over it. Great how Gaving revived the song by combining his younger anger with his mysterious whispering and falsetto. I know you can’t have it all, but it was too bad that Dik wasn’t there, as he was at the Irish Electric Picnic concert.

The band continued with Where’d Ya Go? Gone which was a bit louder and more focused on the teasing side of the song than I had experienced it on the album. The next song, the mostly piano-driven Apologia, gave the audience, me and my wife including, the shivers down our spines as it became clear that Gavin was adventuring through his complete solo works. Just a penny for the poor I ask. It was just a little moment of relative silence as Gavin then fiercely bursted into the translated Brel cover Next, also from his solo debut (and recently re-published) Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves. Including military behavior in his shiny suit. Great suit by the way, made him look even sharper than he physically already clearly was.

With Caruso Gavin not only turned the place into a late-nite disco drinking bar that’s so typical for the atmosphere on the Shag Tobacco album but he certainly proved not being one of those ‘pissy popstars’. And we now know it was his uncle Paddy that disturbed his mind at 11 by introducing the young Fionan to this early Italian opera star. After Perfume, with Gavin smelling sex in the venue (like in the song, one of the top songs on catholic for me), he brought us, to my complete exaltation, The King of Trash, not only because he thereby drew from the Adam ‘n’ Eve album but also played one of my all-time favorites. Rex Mortuus Est. After Rags to Riches, Gavin showed his guts by singing the difficult, fragile and very falsetto A Song That Hurts. During the next Able it struck me how great the evening was turning out. The quality of Able, gigantically opening catholic for me, was easily matched by all other catholic material on the concert. Angel did not only end the regular gig but also (finally) showed us the big -no, gigantic- mirrorball sending us back to the disco place.

Luckily the band returned for an encore of Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves, the Oscar Wilde based song from the same titled album, to send us then home with the uplifting message that It’s All Ahead Of You.

It was a great night enjoying Gavin giving the best of himself in his performance, demonstrating what makes him so outstanding and unique; the cabaret-esk clown, an enchanting seducer, a weary drunk or fierce postpunk lad (no women’s dresses or pig heads needed anymore) supported by a subtle, loud or melodic (appropriate as needed) band re-enforced by a warm-hearted cello. The atmosphere went from impressing rage to intensified mantra chants, always enthusiast, always entertaining. Gavin revealed himself once again as an amazing artist chosing work from his amazing catalogue, all fresher than ever, and much into dancing and fooling around that night.

Only the mirror ball shone more that night. But that was a really, really big mirror ball.

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Rex Mortuus Est

Though we still smell his perfume, the king is dead. The King of Trash.

One happy morning I found His Majesty’s testament in my mail. After feeding it many times to my ears I finally got a grip on the journey that Mr. Gavin Friday has taken us throughout his bewildered solo career. In the morning he softly sang of his dreams on Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves, he took us to the dance floor on Adam ‘n’ Eve and he made us think over the day at the bar with Shag Tobacco. And now he’s taken his body to rest in restless nights full of weary thoughts.

He rolls over and over, can’t sleep, mumbling mantra after mantra on catholic (small ‘c’, anti-institutional restoration on semantic grounds). Thoughts of silence, sorrow, guilt, pleasure and blame. A sort of sadness, a blazing hope. He knows he’s going to survive tonight, like he survived the day. And his heart grows more vivid than ever. He celebrates, says goodbye, cherishes the ones he loved and… had to let go of.

Here are the musings of a man skinned by life, still longing to be able to live, love, laugh. With the brittle hope that he can land on the moon. A hidden roadmap showing the determination of life, of living, and moving on. It’s delicate though. As are the musical arrangements. Once voluptuous paintings have been replaced by miniature, pointillist songs. Celtic moods hidden in Dublin mysts, in pubs of swinging sadness, smokey voices of long lost singers.

Mr. Friday has grown flowers on his trash, and he has stopped eating them. The King transformed into an angelic breeze. Herr Doktor Introspektor ruthlessly decomposes and dissects the apple so bitter Eve wouldn’t bite it. While virile Adam-boy has gone grieving but returns to find hope in an eternal mantra that the best is yet, yet to come. There is no real epilogue, no real ending, only growth.

Beyond the dark feelings, I personally dare to hope to see a vibrant performer returning to the stage. A bit of anarchy cabaret reflecting Brel, Weill and Dietrich. The Return of the King! Hail. The man Friday overcomes.

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He wants to be able

To promote his upcoming ‘catholic‘ album (2011) Gavin Friday just released the first album track for free. The track is called ‘Able‘.

The art work for the song relates to the announced album cover. It is well crafted, a bit macaber and dark (expected anything else?), and it refers to mr. Friday’s catholic belief (no capitals!), being Irish, death in a uniform (WW I period-style). And probably much more…

Musically, Able seems at first to continue where Shag Tobacco (1995) stopped. A strong and pulsing beat breaks through an atmosphere of electronic mist, with a soft whispering, late nite voice that is full of latent desire. But on the way low guitars build up and somewhere mid-song they are completely set free and mister Gav launches into some parlando rap-like singing bringing back memories of Adam ‘N’ Eve (1992) work like I Want To Live or The King Of Trash. Bursting into highlights of a vivid horizon of notes, tones and tunes, with lots of strings attached.

Looks like Gav will show his ableness of renewed musical adventures.

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A character. Dublin roads. Obsession. Meeting people. Sort of… insane. Slightly touched. Could be a Virgin Prune, but is… Jigsawmentallama. Inspiration for a song that was included on the Over The Rainbow album, originally a Virgin Prunes ‘compilation of rarities’ of 1981-1983.

Strongman and Mary released it as Artfuck on New Rose, but Gavin Friday turned back to its original title with the 2004 re-issue of the complete catalogue.

The 1983 intent was to show the band beyond If I Die, I Die… and Hérésie. The 2004 edition applies that vision to their complete existence. It officially says 1981-1984, but it includes recordings from preparing The Moon Looked Down And Laughed.

Down The Memory Lane left out (it does belong uniquely on Hérésie). Just A Lovesong kind of switched with White History Book (The Moon…).
The vibe-akimbo mix of Pagan Love Song added (before on the 1993 EP). The LP version of Love Lasts Forever finally marked as a rarity. The Faculties Of A Broken Heart included (got it originally on 45″). And despite not re-issuing The Hidden Lie (what I firmly regret) Gavin did add Blues Song from the album as a… hidden track. Speaking of forbidden fruits.

Given its new use (for The Moon…) the cover artwork was replaced with blue If I Die images. It fits because of the omnipresence of The Beautifull House.

YEO5CD is more than an expanded version of Over The Rainbow. It feels more essential. And it adds the last jigsaw pieces to the beautifull and gigantic Virgin Prunes puzzle.

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I remember. Look forward. Backwards. A day. Never to come. Looked for the words of a singer in a band. Lyrics with the 1991 If I Die, I Die… CD. Crazy. Lost the words. Bought the CD in 1998 during our honeymoon in… Ireland.

But it took until 2004 for Gavin Friday to restore the real grandeur of this Virgin Prunes master piece. And he even managed to reinforce the original brown and blue parts.
The sides I always saw as the spiritual and the earth side.

The brown side is extended with Dave-ID Is Dead, following Pagan Love Song, before Fàdo (formerly unknown to me) melancholically ends it. I didn’t know Dave-ID was dead before the 1993 ‘Pagan Love Song’ EP (‘Tormentallama’ and ‘Vibeakimbo’ mixes and my beloved Lovelornalimbo).

Chance Of A Lifetime went from black to blue (originally on my The Faculties of A Broken Heart 45″), making way for Yeo (formerly unknown to me) to close side and album. The recurring piano tunes of Fàdo and Yeo seem subtle hints at the re-gained balance of the album. 2 x 7 = 14 and the re-issues are YEO1 to YEO5

The loss of the original cover picture is compensated by the enhanced booklet. Immersed in the spiritual and earth feels.
Never before released pictures. Ghosts. Forest people. Another tribal side of the band (remember the on-stage pigheads and Pig Children imagery). Colin Newman granted a revenge with the ‘director’s cut’ of Baby Turns Blue.

Whatever happened to Emancipation Act 72/3/4?
Did it die with its sole signatory in 1996?

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1989. A man. Boy. No real man (not like fathers). Locked. Away. Stares. A river. Cries. A river. Need to sleep. Love lost. A fool romantic. Tortured heart. Could have been so good… for you. Eyes that see the world. I have no words. The moon looked down.      And laughed.

2004. Gavin Friday finally succeeds in re-releasing, re-arranging, extending and re-shuffling the complete Virgin Prunes back catalog.

The Moon Looked Down And Laughed got new artwork and Just A Lovesong, the most honest lovesong ever (previously only a ‘rarity’ on Over The Rainbow). Courtesy of Dave-ID and Dave Ball. True Life Story remained with its crazy growling in Russian by Mary’s girlfriend (not on LP but on the New Rose CD). White History Book deleted (previously on the B-side of my “Don’t Look Back”-EP and the New Rose CD).

Preferring Lovelornalimbo (previously on my Our Love Will Last Forever Untill It Dies-EP only) over Love Lasts Forever ultimately removes a slick feeling of compromise. Away with the slightest doubt if -6 years after the Red Nettle statement- they had secretly tried to be ‘the new pop sound of Ireland‘ after all. Sir Poddington beheaded as a treacherous knight.

2009. Still love it! Gav settled things. No sacrilege. No harm done. But I still feel that The Hidden Lie is worthwhile… but Gavin doesn’t. Who am i?