Irish singing star Gavin Friday, former singer with the infamous Virgin Prunes and a close friend of U2’s Bono, has assembled some of his most famous friends for a very special one night only concert at Carnegie Hall on Sunday night.
Scheduled to appear just days before his 50th birthday on Thursday, the mysterious rock singer is inviting Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton for individual performances, but not as U2 (as far as we know yet).
One thing is certain, it’s a rare opportunity to see the Irish super group playing individually or with unannounced friends, and tickets are being snapped up.
Slated to participate are Laurie Anderson, Andrea Corr, Courtney Love, Lydia Lunch, Maria McKee, Shane MacGowan, Scarlett Johansson and Rufus Wainwright. Joel Grey, the famous compere from the classic musical Cabaret will be there too (perhaps as Master of Ceremonies?).
“I saw Joel in Cabaret when I was a kid and he just blew my mind, I was obsessed with it,” says Friday.
“He opened up doors for me to the world of Kurt Weil, Berthold Brecht and Charles Isherwood. He was like a touchstone. It’s the era I grew up in Dublin listening to Bowie, T-Rex, and Roxy Music. One of the things about the Virgin Prunes was that we were more popular in Europe than we were anywhere else.”
Friday brought that torch song singing European influence to Bono and U2. “You become the people you hang around, so yeah I would have opened doors after the 1980’s when they had finished Rattle and Hum,” says Friday.
“Bill Graham, a very clever journalist for the Hot Press, Ireland’s premiere rock magazine, once said ‘One day U2 will turn into the Virgin Prunes.’ And they nearly did around Achtung Baby. We were far more extreme. You never know I might turn into U2 eventually.”
An Evening with Gavin Friday and Friends is part of (RED) Nights, a concert series designed to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. But despite its serious theme, you can depend on Friday to throw a memorable party.
“I like being with my mates and having a great dinner and a few drinks. I want the night to be very spontaneous, a one off. What really excites me is having a group of profoundly creative people all over the place. They’ve come here, they’re rehearsing for three days, getting up on stage and doing something that isn’t over marketed, over analyzed, it’s just pure. That excites me. The stakes are going to be glorious.”
Asked if it was true that on Bono’s 33rd birthday Friday sent him a packet containing nails, a hammer and wood with a note marked “DIY” he replied it was. “It was during the Zooropa tour and I was out on the road with them. He didn’t get up on the cross, though.”
Friday hails from Ballymun, at that time considered the projects of Dublin. “Isn’t that great though? I don’t have time to think about it though because right now I’m on autopilot. I’m not going to over think it. It’s a good way to keep happy you know, by staying true to yourself, by saying ah fuck it, this is what I want to do, you know?”
Asked if he’ll celebrate after the show with a few pints Friday replies: “I never drink pints. I’d turn into Van Morrison. If he reads that he’ll kill me. But there’ll be fine wines quaffed after the event, I’ll tell you that baby. It’ll be a very loud late night in upper Manhattan.”