Toyah promises Stortford audience new twists on her classic tracks

For original 80s wild child Toyah Willcox, growing old gracefully was never on the cards. At the age of 53, the gloriously extravagant and punk-inspired New Wave singer remains every bit as keen to strap on an outrageous outfit and strut into the spotlight.

Best known for 1981 hit single It’s A Mystery, Toyah – who is the star attraction at Bishop’s Stortford’s week-long Stortfest Crawl – has also enjoyed a career as an actress and voiceover artist.

But it’s her musical ventures that give her the most satisfaction – and when she comes to Rhodes on May 5, fans can expect plenty of surprises and fresh twists on classic tracks.

Asked if she still felt comfortable hitting the stage in her trademark costumes, she told the Observer: “It’s what I do and what I’ve always done, so it’s absolutely second nature to me.  “I started out in an age of video, so everything in those early days was about being visual – it had to be. You couldn’t release a single without a video to go with it.

“I’m enjoy [the costumes] immensely, and the reaction it gets – well, the audience just love it because you can always surprise people.

“This particular show is about an album called The Changeling, which is quite a dark one and quite adult for me, so we’ve created a particular look for those songs.

“But I also have looks for other songs – I always have pink hair for It’s A Mystery, for example. It’s all incredibly well thought-out and addressed.”

As many an artist has discovered, there’s a fine line between keeping your old fans happy while appealing to a new generation – and an ever-present risk of trying and failing to relive former glories.

However, Toyah said: “I’m not just reviving [the songs] but reinventing them as well - I don’t go out on stage pretending to be 22!

“My audience is surprisingly young and I think a lot of the ‘freshness’ comes from them – mostly thanks to bands like Florence and the Machine naming me as influences.”

• Continue reading, at ‘Herts & Essex Observer’, here.