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
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,
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.
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