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Eyewitness: Andy H

I first saw the Virgin Prunes at the Hammersmith Palais in may 1985 at the all day Psychic TV festival.
I was 16 and it was my first London gig. I had actually been on a bus heading to the shops in Folkestone the nearest town i could buy records from. when I met a mate who said he was off to London to see the Virgin Prunes. I already loved the Virgin Prunes even though I knew very little about them. I think at that point I owned Pagan Love Song 12″, If I Die I Die, the Heresie box set, Over the Rainbow and had heard the Italian New form of beauty double lp.
As I remember it was unbelievably hot in the Palais all day and we had to watch some awful bands but finally the evening came and it got closer to the time they would be on. The Virgin Prunes were supporting Psychic TV so when Psychic TV came on I began to think The Prunes werent playing. DISASTER!!!!!!!!!!
Psychic TV played and went. Then the glorious sound of Red Nettle burst out the speakers and out came the Prunes. I only recognised Strongman at the time and then Gavin Friday came running/skipping out?
At the time I thought they were fantastic, fond memories of Gavin sticking his fingers up at the tv screens and switching between anguished caberet singer and angry lunatic with an ease that was genuinely un-nerving.
I have since watched and heard many of their live gigs and realise that this was not the Virgin Prunes at their best. However I loved every moment of it and was lucky to see them a further 3 times that year at London, Croydon and Brighton. I was even lucky enough to buy the book off Rolf Vasselli at the Croydon gig and had it taken back stage where they kindly signed it for me. Two memories of the Croydon gig are Gavin whacking his cane down on the monitors, narrowly missing our fingers but eventually catching one grimacing rockabilly type aroung the head. No apology from Gavin but he did rub the guy’s head briefly. I also remember him using the ladies loo at one point before they played.
I still love this band and buy any re-releases or bootlegs etc, the moment iI see them.
The Hammersmith Palais Virgin Prunes may have been a pale reflection of their earlier selves but it will always be a fond memory of my first “proper” gig that i went to.
I live in hope that radio session/demos will be released at some point.