- 20 Mar 01
John Fleming, a writer and fan, pays tribute to the late John Borrowman, the driving force of one of Dublin's quintessential bands, The Atrix.
THE SINGER of The Atrix has died: this sounds like a small footnote to the history of a now smug Dublin. But The Atrix and the late John Borrowman are part of a pillar whose base extends back to the early days of a very different city.
Once upon a time there were three great bands in Dublin: U2, the Radiators and The Atrix. Many preferred The Atrix: their magic swirl was an adjective for the emergent colours of the new wave. They were a momentum-gaining kaleidoscope at a 1980 gig at the Magnet Bar in Pearse Street, supported by a young Microdisney. Later again that year - at an anti-toxic dump gig in Finglas - the chorus of their 'Treasure On The Wasteland' reached out in schoolyard yearning: OOeOOeOOeee.
John Borrowman on stage: elfin, a northside Rumpilstiltskin whose name you didn't need to know, for he was the front man of The Atrix, a band that looked like a loving family as they played richly-woven songs such as 'Statues', 'I Wonder Why', 'The Moon Is Puce', 'Procession' and 'Wendy's In Amsterdam'. Sudden changes of tempo would take a song back in on itself; reverse thrust would equip it with a melody or elegant variation of a riff that a meaner, less inspired band would save for a second song. They made darkly joyous psychedelic pop. As their singer, John was a mischief-maker on the epic scale. His spiky guitar and Bisto Kid antics gilded by Chris Green's defining keyboard and Dick Conroy's bass, made him the lion-tamer of lost moments in that band's late '70s/early '80s Dublin cabaret.
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