At The ICA
Toyah / Blood Donor / Invisible
Sex - ICA Theatre, London
A strange transformation takes place as you leave
the ICA Theatre. A gloomy black hall gives way to a bright, white bar.
Much the same happened to the music.
First call, Blood Donor, have had hard times of
late, falling foul of a tangling record deal. Sadly the disillusionment
seems to have got them down. Clever, innovative synth sounds and a powerful,
drummer (the base lines are handled by one of the two keyboard players)
were pulled down by the lack of image or direction, and a monotonous vocal
delivery. A shame. They could be excellent as the ideas are fine.
Invisible Sex romped around with Devo-esque, white
boiler suits, foil masks, and a fire-eater. Tight, punchy playing, more
excellent keyboard work and a shower of gob from the unappreciative audience.
Toyah was the bright light. Fresh in a new tangerine
and gold haircut she bounced round the stage like a spit ball in front
of a superb band. The lady has talent but the band were a good 50% of her
success that night.
Every song had cunning, dipping arrangements with
gripping dynamics. 'Dance' had a vast string sound, thick chords and a
fuzzed bass ending. Keys man Pete Bush washed the stage with power while
bass player Charlie Francis and drummer Steve Bray glued down each change.
Toyah has presence. What she lacks are easily
remembered melodies. 'Tiger, Tiger' sticks but otherwise there is little
to hum on the way home, it all happens at the gig such as ' visions'. A
meandering build through the verse developed into a dancing bass line before
you realised it.
As a vocalist she sits somewhere between Kate
Bush and Noosha Fox, an odd comparison but a rough guide.
Guitarist Joel Bogen was undermixed for most of
the night so his contributions were difficult to judge. Those of the roadies
were easier. They spent the last number, a dramatic 'She', soaking the
audience with a hose pipe.
Smart move boys. Whoever let them get away with
that on a stage snaked with cables should be shown what a water and mains
cocktail is like.
13th September 1980