Gavin Friday set to celebrate 50th birthday in style 

When ex-Virgin Prunes enigma Gavin Friday scheduled his 50th birthday bash recently, he did it in suitably grand, eccentric style.

He rented out Carnegie Hall for the night, and invited a star-studded roster of guests, old music-biz pals like U2, Lou Reed, Lydia Lunch, Courtney Love, Laurie Anderson, Flo and Eddie, and Martha and Rufus Wainwright.

It was a none-too-subtle way of announcing that he’s back in action. His first album in 16 years, “catholic,” will be released digitally May 17 and physically July 26. It will include a 24-page novella from “The Butcher Boy” author Patrick McCabe.

Where has Friday been?

Dealing with real-life issues, for starters, like the death of his father and the demise of his marriage. But post-Prunes, he also stayed busy with his side project The Man Seezer, several film scores (like “The Boxer,” “In America”) and even got nominated for a Golden Globe along the way for the Sinead O’Connor-sung composition “You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart” (from “In The Name Of The Father”). And his droll wit remains undiminished — the “catholic” cover, shot by Perry Ogden, depicts him lying in state in a coffin, wrapped in a crucifix-adorned Irish flag.

So a big welcome back to one of rock’s most compelling artists.

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Tom Lanham

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