Eyewitness: Thomas Geyrhalter

Virgin Prunes Berlin The Loft June’86
“we were very excited about this for weeks in advance. i will never forget the sound of my friend frank’s voice reading out the name ‘virgin prunes’ from the loft’s preview flyer, as this name was already more of a mythology for us. i dressed up all yellow, which i did at the time for very special occasions. we saw many very inspiring concerts around that time in Berlin ( X-Mal Deutschland, early Mary Chain, Dead Can Dance etc ), there was a very different energy to some of these concerts, some of them felt like real rituals. A lot of these concerts happened at The Loft which was and is one of Berlin’s coolest venues. Housed in the huge Metropole theatre, it’s a dark sort of hole with a stage…On that night there was a support band whose name i forgot, but they had a hit called ‘The bus’ which many people knew, in fact a lot of people seemed to be there to see them and left before the Prunes…at the time we primarily knew the ‘If I Die, I Die’ album, which we loved, and we expected a similar sort of show. As this was ‘The moon looked down and laughed’ tour this was already more like Gavin Friday solo, so instead of the famous Gavin/Guggi interaction scenarios the show focussed on Gavin. Although this was initially disappointing, it was still a very theatrical show: Gavin, immaculately dressed and groomed just like on the album cover and with a big grin on his face, sat on a barstool staring into the audience. There were several things in front of him which he played around with but i can’t remember what they were. They started playing a lot of stuff from ‘The Moon looked down at laughed’ which we heard for the first time that night. I particularly remember him singing the line ‘my friends are freaks’. Some of it was very intense, although at first it didn’t translate so well, as it was quite different from ‘If I Die,I Die’. There was a dark cabaret kind of vibe about it that reappeared later in Gavin’s solo work fully formed. The rest of the band were very static and withdrawn, Strongman playing large parts of the gig with his back to the audience, underlining Gavin’s performance as the sole focus. I have since come to love ‘The moon looked down and laughed’ for its extreme romanticisms and edgy emotional intensity, i think it’s a link between VPs and Gavin’s solo stuff. They eventually played some old classics, which was the one and only time i have seen these songs performed live, so it was totally cool…i especially remember ‘Walls of Jericho’. By that time something between band and audience had clicked and it was cool to dance and shout…so all in all i’d say it was a very good concert…but maybe not what we expected. after the show we met someone called ‘Slider’ who we hang out with for the rest of the night (which is maybe symbolic given that Gavin recorded a song called ‘The Slider’ about 10 years later)…”