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Eyewitness: ‘Nudefootballer’

I saw the Virgin Prunes once, at Queen’s University in Belfast, circa 1979.
I was 14 or 15 at the time, I’m now 43 with a lifetime of going to see bands under my belt and to this day I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so shocking/anarchic/frightening/surreal!
The story is this: Belfast in the late 70’s was a pretty grim place as you may well imagine, but we were fortunate in that there was a fairly healthy amount of decent bands playing the province. The Ramones, The Clash, The Banshees, The Stranglers (cough), Penetration… I’d go to any gig I could get my poor mother to shell out for, plus there were a few good local bands such as Rudi, The Undertones, Protex, Victim (nobody liked Stiff Little Fingers, believe me!).
ANYWAY, me and my mate got wind of the fact that a band called The Virgin Prunes were coming up from Dublin (I think I may have read one article about them but gawd knows where, certainly not the NME, possibly in a fanzine) so we decided to check them out.
The first time the penny dropped that this wasn’t “just a punk band from Dublin’ was queuing outside the venue. There were a handful of fans/friends from Dublin and they looked completely different to the Belfast crowd… I remember “weird” hair, military jackets, boys in make-up… we were probably wearing the punk uniform of leather biker’s jacket, drainpipes, a Siouxsie/P.I.L t-shirt and suede brothel creepers….
Inside the venue, first on, was a boy who looked not much older than me and I believe this was Dave-Id. Accompanied by a long haired bloke on guitar (lead, rhythm, bass… I have no idea) he proceeded to sing/shout “I don’t want to go to the theatre, I don’t want to go to the theatre, I don’t want to go to the theatre” for what seemed like 20 minutes. Arms flailing madly, green and black chequered trousers, it was certainly an eye-opener.
Some time passes and the next thing I can remember is a dark, brooding, malevolent figure appearing on the stage in a dress your giddy maiden aunt would wear, pink leg-warmers, barefooted and shaking a small brass bell. Gavin Friday! He was truly, truly shocking!
The rest of the gig is a blur… I know Guggi was there too and I think he was in white… I can’t remember any “songs” as such but if you’re wondering why I’m recalling the visual rather than the aural all I can say is that The Virgin Prunes were more like performance art to me that night, rather than just another boring, loud, shouty punk band.
Me and my mate had to catch the last bus home at 10.30 so we gingerly backed our way out of the hall before the gig finished, fearful that Gavin or Guggi would jump off the stage, grab us by the throat and say “Where the fuck do you think you’re going?”. It really was that intense.
I sorely regret not getting to see The Prunes after this… in fact I’m not sure they ever played Belfast again. I saw Gavin recently in Jarvis’ “Forest of No Return” at Meltdown, he was brilliant. I then checked YouTube for Prunes videos and bought ‘If I Die, I Die”… hence
me spilling my recollections….