TOYAH
Riverside Studios, London

Appearances in Jarman's forthcoming The Tempest and Jubilee, a part in Quadrophenia, a recent play at the ICA, a recording contract with Safari (sole labelmate: Wayne County) - Toyah Willcox does not lack for art-punk credentials. So it was hardly surprising to find her band, Toyah, rocking out one of Peter Gill's Hammersmith auditoria with their brain-scrambling concoction of hard rock and dramatic gesture. 

The singer's appearance tends to a sort of postwar art rococo: geometric/monochromatic layers of clothing, op-art necklace, gothic make-up, the whole squat impish figure topped with a multi directional splay of carrot growing out black. 

On first hearing, the voice suggest equally exotic resonances, as it swoops from a smoky jazz tone to blood curdling screams; the trouble is that she has a habit of blowing the whole range within each number, never deploying it to suit the mood or mode of any single piece. 

It's not hard to see - or experience more personally, if you sit too near the stage - why Toyah expresses a preference for spacious playing areas where she can swirl about the stage and its environs like the spirit of mischief on speed, apparently kicking the shit out of one member of the audience during "Problem Child". 

The band - Pete Bush (keyboards), Joel Bogen (guitar), Steve Bray (drums), Mark Henry (bass), and guest Blood Donor Charlie Stephenson (percussion) - passed by as an undistinguished blur of pumping bass and skull-flattening wodges of guitar and synthisiser. Rather old fashioned, really. 

Indeed, the combinations of tricked-up heavy matter and "violence"/"menace" (nothing of the sort of course) comes uncomfortably close to formulaic theatre of cruelty rock.

That said, I hope these are teething problems, because the band's first single, "Victims Of The Riddle" points elsewhere, a remarkably listenable slice of paranoia and macabre chills that the musicians compliment with a clever Terry Riley/disco/electronic backing track. Live, it implies, they ought to be doing more than trying to match Toyah Willcox's awesome excesses of energy and exuberance, a job no one in their right mind ought to take on - even a bloody big PA. 

Steve Taylor
NME
July 1979

This was a one off gig at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London on 18th July 1979. It took place three months after the end of the Resurrection Tour, but is considered the last date of that tour.