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Eyewitness: Shaun Morris

“The first time I got to see Virgin Prunes live was at the Electric Ballroom, London on 11th August 1983. Support was provided by the then up and coming Sisters Of Mercy.
“I’d become a fan of the band early in ’83 so still had little knowledge of what they were about. What I saw was a real eye opener. Dave-id hit the stage first as he still did in those days and myself and most of the audience (including Marc Almond) wondered what had hit us. Who was this guy and what was he doing? I’d never seen anyone before doing what he did. He stalked the stage delivering three tracks in his own special way. By the time we’d got used to him he’d gone.
“Virgin Prunes then came out and my sense of excitement grew even more. Gavin was in a red velvet skirt and jacket and Guggi in a white lace blouse. They treated us to a mix of well known tracks such as “Walls Of Jericho” and “Caucasian Walk” as well as airing some tracks such as “True Life Story”, “Deadly Sins” & “Sons Find Devils” for the first time to an English audience. They also performed a track which I know as “Hurt The One I Love” which as far as I know they never performed again.
“As the show drew to a close “Come To Daddy” left everyone straining to see what was happening onstage as Gavin & Guggi treated everyone to their “shagging” session. The only down point of the night was the venue which was underground and unbelievably hot. As we left the show sweat was running down the walls. God knows what it nust have felt like onstage.
“The next time I saw the band a few months later I’d become a fully fledged fanatic and claimed my place on the front row. The venue was Rock City in my hometown of Nottingham and the date 29th November 1983. Dave-id again did his three tracks and the Nottingham crowd seemed even more confused than the London one.
“A long piece of intro music heralded the arrival of Gavin & Guggi. Wrapped in their long black coats they shuffled across the stage accompanied by someone in a police outfit and mask. Gavin & Guggi waved at the crowd, insanely grinning like a pair of escaped lunatics. A long tube lay onstage which they picked up and played with – one of them talking into one end whilst the other listened at the other end. Guggi then placed one end to his crotch whilst Gavin turned his back and placed the tube between his legs. He then pulled the tube through his legs until Guggi collided with his behind much to everyones amusement. Candles and bananas lay on the table onstage but Gavin took it upon himself to bring a long pole crashing down onto them splattering them to a pulp.
“As the show went into full swing I began to wonder if a space on the front row was the best place to be. There was humour in the show but I got the impression that you shouldn’t be smiling. Gavin prowled the stage in such an intimidating way that you got the feeling his Doc Martens could at any moment make contact with your face.
“Much of this tour is preserved on the “Sons Find Devils” video from the gig a day later in Manchester. Again lots of “If I Die, I Die..” was performed but the highlights were again “Come To Daddy” & “The Blues Song” (Show Me The Way To Go Home) which closed the set. Gavin & Guggi returned to the stage acting drunk as they serenaded one another.
“It was shortly after this show that Guggi left the band and subsequent shows were missing most of the theatrics which had made Virgin Prunes the best live act I’d ever witnessed.
“On 15th May 1995 they played England for the first time since Guggi had left. Although Dave-id was still a band member he had retired from live shows also. Gavin came onstage clean cut wearing an outfit which reminded me of a British Rail steward. The music still held up well but Guggi was sadly missed and they were obviously a totally different band to before he left. Gavin’s stage presence was still there but in a new way – who knows they could even have become acceptable to the British public in this new less shocking guise.
“Before their demise in 1986 I got to see the band another six times. They remained my favourite band due almost totally to Gavin’s performing but by the time they played Manchester on 19th July 1986 I was getting the impression that their hearts weren’t in it anymore. Looking back maybe they should have called it a day when Guggi left or at least come back under a new band name. That way the memories would have been of Virgin Prunes ending at their peak rather than running out of steam. ”