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The Telegraph: Cannes 2017: Nicole Kidman Channels Toyah

May 30th, 2017

telegraph16aCannes 2017: How to Talk to Girls at Parties, review: Nicole Kidman channels Toyah Willcox in this lifeless sci-fi flick

Derived from a Neil Gaiman short story, this must have felt like an opportunity for provoc-auteur and queer cinema hero John Cameron Mitchell to let his hair down, by resurrecting the anarchic spirit of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee and then staging a Shortbus-lite sex romp with added polymorphous perversity. If this film’s an acquired taste, so is kidney sorbet, or a sponge cake seething with live eels. You get to see Nicole Kidman, in a white electroshock wig, grapple with the part of an angry punk matriarch and yell “shut your gaping gob” at one of her minions. A substitute for Toyah Willcox she’ll never be for the life of her, but the silliness of the casting sums the film up, for good and bad.

• Continue reading at The Telegraph.

YES Magazine: 80′s Invasion Tour

March 19th, 2017

80sinvasion17cThe long awaited 80′s Invasion Tour is back and opened at the Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl on the 2nd of March. YES Mag was lucky enough to be on the guest list and what a night it was!

The show opened with Liverpool’s finest guitar duo China Crisis, who within minutes had everyone on their feet dancing to theor classic beat.

Next up the legendary (and very energetic) pop punk princess Toyah burst on to the stage with hits ‘It’s A Mystery’, ‘I Want Yo be Free’ and many more of her 80′s classics.

• Continue reading at YES Magazine/Twitter.

Shropshire Star: 80s Invasion, Theatre Severn – Review

March 11th, 2017

80sinvasion16b‘Let’s make it like an 80s school disco’, said the performers – and the Theatre Severn certainly had a party atmosphere when it came to the 80s Invasion.

Pop stars China Crisis, Toyah, Paul Young and Martika took to the stage in Shrewsbury on Tuesday, performing their nostalgic hits. Most of the shows I go to are chosen by my mum, and this was no exception. The show was opened by China Crisis, who did a great job of getting the mid-week crowd up and dancing.

We both found Toyah a real revelation, she looked absolutely stunning and had energy by the barrel on stage. She also interspersed her hits, including It’s A Mystery, Thunder In The Mountains and I Wanna Be Free, with tales of her time during the 80s. But it was her cover of Echo Beach, originally by Martha and the Muffins, that really got the crowd going.

• Continue reading at the Shropshire Star.

News North Wales: Review: 80′s Invasion Tour

March 3rd, 2017

80sinvasion16a80′s legends invade the stage at Rhyl Pavilion

The 1980s, is synonymous with big hair and big aspirations.

It was also undoubtedly one of the best decades for music. Not only did it give birth to the music video but also left us with an eclectic mix of styles and genre’s many of which can still be heard in today’s charts.

Such is the fondness for this power dressing period and its place in our relatively recent memories, 37 years on artists from the day are still singing to scores of fans up and down the country at festivals or gigs. An example of this nostalgia package – The 80′s Invasion Tour – was at Rhyl’s Pavilion Theatre on Thursday.

… A quick turn around enabled the next act Toyah to capatalise on the feel good mood. The diminutive diva, who looked remarkable for someone set to celebrate her 59th birthday, launched into her set of defiant early 80s anthems including ‘ It’s a Mystery’ and ‘I want to be free’ – enjoyed by scores of fist pumping audience members. A strong contender surely for national treasure Ms Willcox was followed by international recording artist Martika…

• Continue reading at News North Wales.

Time Out: Crime and Punishment Review

September 7th, 2016

timeout16aCrime & Punishment: A Rock Musical

Nineties kids might remember Willcox as ‘Barmy Aunt Boomerang’ on CBBC, but she had a big career in the late ’70s and ’80s with hits like ‘It’s A Mystery’ and ‘I Want To Be Free’. All her old tunes make an appearance, with some new songs too. They’re fun, but tend to interrupt the rather arch, overwrought Russian melodrama and its philosophical inserts about moral superiority, rather than complementing or enlightening it.

The adaptation by Phil Willmott (who also directs and acts in the show) has its merits and although it’s a brisk 90 minutes it feels pacy rather than rushed. All the necessary beats, from heinous act through falling in love and eventual contrition, find their moment and there are some semi-decent bits of acting in there too.

• Continue reading at Time Out. Read other reviews of Crime and Punishment here. (Photo © Time Out/Sheila Burnett)

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Attitude: Crime & Punishment Review

September 6th, 2016

attitude16aReview | ‘Crime & Punishment’ at The Scoop amphitheatre in London

Dostoyevsky meets steam punk in this bold retelling of the literary classic.

Setting a theatrical performance of Dostoyevsky’s brooding novel Crime and Punishment in a world of steam punk is a brave choice; accompanying it with a soundtrack made up of Toyah Willcox’s classic rock anthems is even braver. The production team at Gods and Monsters Theatre Company have not only attempted this, they’ve pulled it off with all the brazen authority of an axe-wielding Raskolnikov.

The classic Russian tale opens the new season at The Scoop in London, a 1,000-person sunken amphitheatre, and follows Raskolnikov as he justifies the brutal murder of a pawn broker with his belief that it was for the greater good of mankind, that by using the money he steals for good causes he has the right to go above and beyond the law. Directed by Phil Willmott, songs like ‘Love Crazy’ and ‘Who Let the Beast Out’ are intermingled with the tale, fitting surprisingly well with the heavy story and lifting it into a lighter tone that can be enjoyed more readily by all.

• Continue reading at Attitude. Read other reviews of Crime and Punishment here. (Photo © Attitude/Sheila Burnett)

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Mind The Blog: Crime and Punishment Review

September 6th, 2016

cprm16iCrime and Punishment: A Rock Musical is a semi-jukebox musical, in that Willcox’s back catalogue is raided for some of the numbers, and some brand new songs have been provided specifically for the show. Somehow it all works surprisingly well! The jukebox musical approach can sometimes make a show feel forced, as songs are shoe-horned into a storyline, but everything (bar an inadvertently funny It’s A Mystery) gels really well together. It may help if you are unfamiliar with Willcox’s work, as I am, however the themes in the chosen songs fit the feeling of the scenes in which they are included. Given Raskolnikov’s frustration & revolutionary fervour, rock music is definitely the best way to express these feelings. It’s also impressive that quite a sizeable novel can be condensed into a 100-minute show, that still has a tangible storyline running through it.

Crime and Punishment: A Rock Musical runs at the Scoop (London Bridge City) until 25 September 2016. Entry is free – donations can be made & programmes bought on the day.

• Continue reading at Mind The Blog. Read other reviews of Crime and Punishment here.

The Stage: Crime and Punishment Review

September 5th, 2016

stage16aCrime and Punishment review at the Scoop, London – ‘Dostoyevsky gets the steam-punk treatment’

Gods and Monsters Theatre has been creating exciting open-air theatre at the Scoop for the last 14 years. Unlike the cosy, enclave of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the venue is subject to the surrounding bustle of life on the Thames embankment and director Phil Willmott’s production employs the broad strokes necessary to attract and engage with an outdoor audience.

This year Dostoyevsky gets the steam-punk treatment. Willmott has tuned Crime and Punishment into a musical with the help of songwriter and composers Toyah Willcox and Simon Darlow.

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The revolutionary undercurrent of nineteenth century St Petersburg seems an appropriate match for Willcox and Darlow’s soft punk score and a couple of crowd-pleasing hits including I Want to be Free and It’s a Mystery sit comfortably in Willmott’s accessible adaptation.

• Continue reading at The Stage. (Photo © The Stage//Sheila Burnett)

British Theatre Guide: Crime & Punishment: A Rock Musical

September 5th, 2016

A review, by Howard Loxton of the British Theatre Guide, of Crime and Punishment.

Phil Willmott has managed to cut Dostoyevsky’s novel down to a ninety-minute musical. Concentrating on protagonist Rodiom Raskalnikov, he has carved out storyline that presents the main plot clearly and uses Toyah Willcox’s songs (mainly old ones, some specially written) not as decoration but integrated so that they contribute to the storytelling.

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Philip Eddoll’s steampunk set, all cogwheels and smoking chimneys, has already been used for The Wawel Dragon (the evening’s earlier offering for a younger audience). Now onion domes are added to make it more Russian but, though the location remains St Petersburg, with the black-goggled cast slowly crawling all over it as the audience assembles, this surreal place could be any- and everywhere.

Toyah’s “We Are” opens the show with an eruption of confidence from the gathering of students: “we are the young ones, we are the chosen ones, we are the only ones!” before Raskolnikov (Alec Porter) declares that he is penniless and must give up his studies.

• Continue reading at the British Theatre Guide. (Photos © British Theatre Guide/Sheila Burnett)

Crime and Punishment: Reviews

September 5th, 2016

Love London Love Culture: Review: Crime & Punishment – The Rock Musical, The Scoop: This being said there can be no complaints at the music and the songs. From the rousing “We Are” to the more poignant and touching “Legacy”, each song captures the emotions of the story and help the audience to understand the character’s state of mind perfectly. There is an edginess to them that fits in with the aggression and sinisterness of the plot as in “Angels & Demons” – suggesting the conflicting sides to Raskolnikov and which part of him that he is going to follow – Continue reading…

• The Reviews Hub: Crime and Punishment – The Scoop, London: The plundering of Toyah Willcox’s back catalogue of songs also provides some juxtapositions that can’t help but raise a smile, most notably Willmott’s delivery of It’s a Mystery as he begins his investigation into the murder. Throughout, the use of Willcox’s music – most of which is by Willcox and Darlow, with additional contributions from Joel Bogen and Keith Hale – provides a pleasingly uniform and rich rock sound – Continue reading…

Henley Standard: Eighties Giants Sparkle in The Rain

August 30th, 2016

rewind16gRewind South 2016 was 10 days ago, but here’s a newly published review, from the Henley Standard, of the festival anyway…

The weather gods were not kind to Rewind this year, with a very windy weekend punctuated by some heavy rain showers.

However, this did not in any way deter the thousands of Eighties pop fans who visited the riverside site — and certainly not the 23 acts who performed for them.

The festival proper opened with regular Rewind star Tony Hadley — but this time he performed a 45-minute set with the Southbank Sinfonia behind him, as well as the Tony Hadley Band. Fittingly for an artist who cites David Bowie as one of the major influences on Spandau Ballet, he opened with Life on Mars.

More than 30 years on from the band’s Eighties peak, Hadley’s voice has held its strength and power — and ably covered Bowie’s anthem, as well as an Elvis Presley number and Spandau Ballet’s biggest hits. The synthpop era of the early Eighties was well represented by artists such as Hazell Dean, Toyah and Jimmy Somerville, while the big voices came in the form of Rick Astley and Leo Sayer.

• Continue reading at the Henley Standard. (Photo © Henley Standard)

Music-News Reviews: Rewind Festival, Henley

August 25th, 2016

rewind16dTorrential rain is about as welcome at a 80s summer festival as a wasp in your leg-warmers. But when rain soaked the Rewind Festival South crowd every day, forcing them to cover up their colourful costumes, a true disco fever helped to revive their dampened spirits.

Other upbeat acts included the ever-exuberant Leo Sayer who at 68 danced around the stage to songs like You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, with the energy of someone half his age.

And it was certainly a mystery to the audience how Toyah, who sang hits like I Want To Be Free, retains her youthful good looks.

Ringing in the changes at Rewind South for the first time ever was Erasure’s flamboyant Andy Bell who headlined on Saturday night. The Henley crowd were treated to classics like Sometimes and Respect as Andy dazzled the audience in his sequinned shorts.

• Continue reading at Music-News.

Fife Today: Music Review: Rewind Scotland

July 25th, 2016

fifetoday16aIf you are a huge fan of 1980’s music then I would highly recommend the Rewind Scotland Festival. I, along with thousands of other Eighties music fans, headed along to Scone Palace in Perth at the weekend with my camping chair under my arm and wellies on.

This was my first time at the annual event and I have to say I was not disappointed. The rain stayed off on the Saturday but unfortunately we were not so lucky with the weather on the Sunday. It poured from the beginning until the end with only a short dry spell in the early evening. Although it didn’t seem to dampen spirits with revellers enjoying all the acts.

Sets by China Crisis, Toyah, ABC, Big Country and the British Electric Foundation were all real crowd-pleasers…

• Read the full review, by Debbie Clarke, at Fife Today.

Variety: Film Review: ‘Aaaaaaaah!’

May 31st, 2016

variety16aSteve Oram’s deeply British feature debut is the kind of mesmerizing cult oddity whose fan base will be limited but passionate.

It may be filmed in the Academy ratio, but Steve Oram’s low-budget feature debut “Aaaaaaaah!” could hardly be considered a nod to classic Hollywood. Rather, the 4:3 frame indicates something more primal, evoking the so-called “video nasties” (a wave of mostly cheap horror films banned on VHS in the U.K. in the 1980s, following a wave of moral panic over the perceived degeneration in values these films would cause when made available for home viewing). “Aaaaaaaah!” is set in exactly the kind of world Mary Whitehouse feared, and functions as a kind of loving Swiftian satire on the more brutish aspects of modern life. Though it’s at once too subtle and too extreme to attract a broad audience, those who get something out of gross-out humor, silent film and British comedy will treasure “Aaaaaaaah!” as a rare cult gem.

• Continue reading at Variety.

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Nerve: Toyah Acoustic – It’s No Mystery

April 23rd, 2016

nerve16aA great review, by nerve, of Toyah’s Acoustic, Up Close & Personal date at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool last month.

It’s No Mystery

Toyah Willcox strode onto the stage looking resplendent in a kaleidoscopic Oriental smock above a gold long sleeved top and in thigh length boots over black pants. Her frizzed blood red hair of her prime, now a less outlandish strawberry blonde, complementing her attire. She joined both her duo guitar and vocals backing, Colin Hinds and Chris Wong, before thanking the 80 – 90 strong audience for coming out on such a miserable rainy night. Visibly thrilled and gobsmacked to be at such a venue, she enthused ‘we usually play grotty clubs’.

Also on stage was a laptop and video screen, which she used to project key images of her varied acting and singing careers when appropriate. But it was the songs that the crowd had primarily come to see and hear Toyah perform, and when she launched into Good Morning Universe the memories started flooding back. Now 56, her voice was not as visceral as it once was, but came over loud and clear.

• Continue reading at nerve. Browse Toyah’s Official Gigs page for info on forthcoming Acoustic, Up Close & Personal dates.