Wednesday, 5 December 2018

REPORTAGE: New Dawn Fades: Book Launch - The Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester.

The Lass O’Gowrie played host to the launch of ‘New Dawn Fades’ a graphic novel written and drawn by Brian Gorman. ‘New Dawn Fades’ is about Manchester and interlinks the history of the city with the tragic tale of one of its more famous musical exports, the post-punk band Joy Division. The book has had an interesting journey from concept to printed work, with Gorman having first come up with the idea over a decade ago, putting it on hiatus and turning the novel’s script into a stage play which premiered in July 2013 (at The Lass O’Gowrie) before going on to tour the north-west and then England two years later and being revived again for a new production earlier this year with several new cast members (many of which were in attendance at this evening’s event).

Giles Bastow, the producer of the play of ‘New Dawn Fades’ was the MC for the evening, and he introduced Gorman to the stage, who gave us a brief history of the book and the subsequent play and how the play became a book again. The initial impetus was to use the lyrics written by Joy Division's ill-fated singer Ian Curtis as a way into telling the story of Manchester, as Curtis’ lyrical concerns were often focused on places (as one line from the song “Shadowplay” puts it: “To centre of the city at night, waiting for you”). Gorman then introduced Tony Davidson, or TJ Davidson as he was known in the late 1970s, the owner of rehearsal studios where Joy Division (or Warsaw as they were known as they started out) used to practise ahead of gigs and recording sessions. Davidson became friends with the band, loaning them £600 so their debut EP could be repressed to sound less muffled (he got the money back) and he admitted that he passed on managing them!

Live music was provided by Trio Atem who presented radical, avant-garde reworkings of Joy Division songs. Consisting of just flute, cello, and vocals, the group recast “Shadowplay” as a chilling Weimer Republic era cabaret song; “She’s Lost Control” saw the flute act as guitar, replacing Bernard Sumner’s skeletal guitar lines; their final song was a chilling take on the song “New Dawn Fades” which really brought home the bleakness in both musical and lyrical content.

After the band had got everyone in the mood, it was down to the main event of the evening: the chance to buy a copy of the book, have it signed by its author and talk to him about its unconventional journey from book to stage play and back to being a book again. Gorman was charming with a nice line in self-deprecating humour and seemed relieved to finally have the book published.

With regards to the book itself, the artwork by Gorman was bold and striking (especially his drawing of David Bowie in full-on Ziggy Stardust mode early in the book). The book of “New Dawn Fades” also contains atmospheric photos taken by Shay Rowan during the play’s various productions since 2013, and a foreword written by music journalist and writer Mick Middles. If you are a fan of Joy Division, then this book is well worth investing time and money in.

Reportage - Andrew Marsden
on - 4/12/18

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