The Lost Chord

The Lost Chord It is available from the publisher Lagan Press or from Amazon.

The Lost Chord is the story of a peculiarly Irish rock legend as seen through the eyes of Manus Brennan, Duil’s rhythm guitarist and former Belfast busker.
Picked up by the luckiest of flukes to join Gino and his not-so-merry men, Manus lives to the full the rock and roll lifestyle. As he happily admits in his recounting of the Gino legend, Manus leaves no cliche unturned: the boredom of touring, the drugs, the groupies, the joy and freedom of playing before thousands, the unexpected liberations of songwriting, the waste of money and the excesses of ego.
And yet at the centre of it all is Gino. One of the lads and yet always unknowable, whose sudden disappearance turns everyone’s world upside down.
Written with the verve and brio of Gino’s press interviews, Tony Bailie’s debut novel is a sardonic and entertaining romp through rock mythology.

Below is the opening section of The Lost Chord

WHILE flicking through TV channels I am suddenly confronted with a vision of my past, my face fresh and smiling between the parted drapes of shoulder length hair. I am astounded at my composure as Ipick out a medium-paced lick, my fingers sliding along the neck of my guitar to hit the higher notes. The camera pulls away from me as the band’s singer Gino steps forward to a microphone and takes up the vocal. His hair has been tied back into a ponytail leaving his bog oak-coloured face more exposed and angular than usual, its narrowness accentuated by his drooping, tight-pinched nose. From his left ear hangs a tangled crucifix and from the long purple suede coat that he wears dangles a variety of medals, badges, feathers and shrubbery. As he sings, his fingers are constantly moving, chunking out a mixture of rhythm and riff until midway through the song they fly off into a guitar solo that seems to cover a dozen octaves at the same time. The camera breaks from Gino and pans to his right where the bass player Finn perches casually on the drum riser with one booted leg curled around the other as he expertly manipulates notes from his instrument. He is wearing dark green-tinted granny glasses and a decrepit top hat with spiked tufts of ginger hair poking through holes in it. The focus shifts just behind him to where the drummer Aaron is a spasm of constant movement, his head and entire body jerking in time to the rhythms that he hammers out, his eyes clenched shut and forehead bathed in sweat. The shot then cuts to keyboard player Justin, his eyes darting towards the camera as he delights in the attention, a cigarette burning between his lips as his hands flit between the triple-decked bank of synthesisers and organ. Then it is back to Gino in time for the final moments of his guitar solo and the last verse of the song.

The footage was shot about a year after I had joined Duil. We had been asked by a Belgian TV station to play three songs live in their Antwerp studio for a documentary they were making about the band when we were at the height of our success.

The next clip, however, shows a totally different band playing a concert in Argentina and the contrast is dramatic. The footage is from our last debauched world tour and in retrospect it is easy to see that disaster was on the cards. The film clip starts with a lingering silhouetted shot of Gino taking a long slug from a bottle before turning back to face the camera and audience. Coming immediately after the Belgian footage it is shocking to see how his earthy-looking complexion has been drained to a listless grey, the sinews of his neck and forehead are prominent and his eyes are covered by shades. He strums a couple of times at his guitar, shrugs and almost accidentally picks up on the opening riff of a song called ‘Sahara Night’ followed half-heartedly by the rest of the band. A shot of Aaron shows him making all the right moves but with little passion, for while he taps out a faultless rhythm, his body is rigid and tense. Finn’s hair is still spiked and fiery and he wears his tinted granny glasses, but he too seems lethargic, standing slumped against an amp, his face set into a scowl. Justin nods in time at his keyboards, but avoids eye contact with the camera which pans across to where I am standing in the half shadows at the side of the stage. My head is dipped towards my guitar and I seem oblivious to the intrusion of the camera as I play a counter melody to Gino’s riff; when I look up I glance across the stage to where Gino is, my eyes haunted and wary, afraid

that at any minute he will launch an attack on some member of the audience.

Although I have seen this footage before I am still shocked at my own appearance and the contrast between the confident, slightly stoned guitarist who was on the screen a few minutes earlier and the emaciated and scraggly bearded figure I had become.