Warrior Rock (Toyah On Tour)
Reviewed By Richard Evans
I have to say first of all that if you're looking
for an unbiased review of this album then you'll need to look elsewhere.
You see this is a live double album recorded at
London's infamous Hammersmith Odeon in 1982 and I was actually there. At
the time it was, without any shadow of a doubt , the most exciting thing
that had ever happened to me and if I'm honest it's still up there with
the best of them. It wasn't my very first gig although it was certainly
one of the first, but it was my first Toyah gig and in 1982 Toyah was at
the very heart of my life... obsession is an ugly word but in retrospect
having 400 or so Toyah press cuttings and pictures on my bedroom wall back
then speaks volumes!
I can remember the thrill of buying this album
when it was first released... the very weight of the double vinyl and the
new ink smell of the gatefold sleeve, and then the perilous journey home
- my heart in my mouth in case I dropped it, scratched the vinyl, bent
the corners, left fingerprints on the cover... then getting home and putting
the vinyl on the turntable, a rumble a couple of crackles and this...
The album opens with the noise of the crowd chanting
for Toyah and then simply exploding as she comes on stage in the wake of
strange pulses, sounds and drum rolls... the euphoric rush as 'Good Morning
Universe' kicks in still makes the hairs on my neck rise twenty-three years
later and I'm instantly drawn into Toyah's tribal world of colour and drama
Immediately the strength and talent of the live
band is apparent, notably the contribution of Simon Phillips on drums who
puts on a fantastic show, underpinning every second with his precision
drumming, and Toyah herself is in great voice - her voice soaring - and
evidently enjoying every moment of the night. This is the sound of a band
coming together as one and to this day 'Warrior Rock' remains one of my
favourite live albums ever.
The title track 'Warrior Rock' is up next, originally
a b-side on the 'Brave New World' single, the song is a true call to arms
and has been adopted as a clarion call by the Toyah faithful and they welcome
it here with open arms and the hysteria mounts as Toyah goes into one of
her very greatest tracks 'Danced', a true crowd pleaser. The mood softens
and mellows as Toyah romps through Anthem's 'Jungles Of Jupiter', the obligatory
'It's A Mystery' and The Changeling's 'Castaways' before leading into one
of Toyah most overlooked and sublime songs 'Angel & Me' which starts
off quiet and fragile and explodes into one of the albums finest moments.
Exhausted after this frenzy we have 'Brave New
World' which slows the pace back down and has never sounded more plaintive,
the band giving his live version fresh verve and aspect as they add swoops
and twirls of their own that showcase the power of this often forgotten
single. I've never really been a fan of 'The Packt' which comes next but
Anthem's 'We Are' is a jubilant build-up for the inevitable 'I Want To
Be Free' which, complete with audience singalong, brings the excitement
to dangerous levels before moving into 'Dawn Chorus' which is another tribal
audience singalong number.
Penultimate song 'War Boys' allows Simon Phillips
to step into the spotlight opening with an awe-inspiring drum solo which
by taking the tribal elements of the song by the scruff of the neck and
puts it on a new level and makes this live version an album highlight.
As any Toyah fan knows, a Toyah show has to close
with 'Ieya' (it's the law!) and 'Warrior Rock' is no exception, again the
band throw in new details and styling and turn an already powerful song
into a vast epic and this recording is possibly the best version of the
many that are available.
As the album finishes I actually feel drained
by the experience, not as draining as actually being there I admit, but
this is a record that immediately and effortlessly transports me back to
my early teens when nothing was more important than music and no-one in
music was more important than Toyah and that's a great feeling...
Briefly I feel like I touched the pure power of
music again, and it's exactly those feelings that made me start RememberTheEighties.com
in the first place... Toyah, here's to you, with thanks!