Toyah Ready To Rock Cheltenham Church

Former pop punk star Toyah Willcox has chosen a Bishop’s Cleeve church to kick off her new tour.

St Michael’s and All Angels Church will be filled with fans of the singer, who shot to fame 30 years ago with hits such as It’s a Mystery.

Her new band The Humans will play a free, intimate gig at the church, which has a capacity of 200 people, on Saturday.

Joining the one-time princess of punk on stage will be REM drummer Bill Rieflin.

Toyah, who has had 13 top 40 singles, recorded 20 albums and toured the world, said: “We have a strong association with Bishop’s Cleeve artist PJ Crook.

“And a long-standing relationship with Cheltenham.”

Toyah and her husband, guitarist Robert Fripp, are patrons of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum and she said her mother, who was a touring dancer, worked in a theatre in Cheltenham before she was born.

This will be her first gig in Cleeve, but Robert has already played at the church twice.

“I am so excited about it,” said Toyah.

“The gig will be a public rehearsal. Rather than do a rehearsal privately we thought it would be really good to do it in front of an audience.”

The Rev Mike Holloway, team vicar at Bishop’s Cleeve, said: “It’s a great opportunity to see them before the tour.

“There is a collection for the church, but the audience is being given the chance to see a great band for nowt.”

The Humans, which was started by Toyah in 2007, is made up of Bill Rieflin, who turns his hand to the bass guitar, bassist Chris Wong and occasional special guest Robert.

She describes the experimental music as “deconstructed pop songs” where the rhythm and vocals take the lead.

“It is like story telling. I wanted it to sound like European film noir,” she said.

“It is emotional and dark.”

The band’s debut album, We Are The Humans, includes a 21st Century version of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.

Toyah said: “We also have Purple Haze on the set list, but these songs will sound very different to their originals.”

She said she would rather perform in unusual venues such as churches, instead of traditional gig venues.

“Churches have naturally powerful acoustics so you don’t need very much PA. Any Norman Foster building would be my ideal venue,” she added.

Gloucestershire Echo
19th February 2010