Toyah Newcastle City Hall 1981 & 1982
So Toyah became a pop star. She had major chart success with a run of hit singles. First “It’s a Mystery” which was the stand out song on a hit EP. Toyah: “When I first heard ‘It’s a Mystery’ I thought it wasn’t for me….the end of…four brilliant years’ work as a credible rock artist… Because I’d worked from 1977 right up to 1980 and I had an army of followers and I just knew this song wasn’t for them”. This was followed by “I Want to Be Free”. Toyah again: “It resonated with how I felt about my school years.” “Thunder in the Mountains” followed: “I wanted to be Bodicea, set in the future, a woman breaking free… everything I did that year was on the concept of breaking free”.
I saw Toyah on the next couple of tours both of which called at Newcastle City Hall; the Anthem tour on 1st June 1981 and the Changeling tour on 12th July 1982. These were big shows with intricate stage sets, which gave Toyah a platform to run around, playing out her Bodicea fantasy, while she squealed, squawked and screamed her way through the set. Great fun.
The concerts on 17 July and 18 July 1982 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon were recorded for the live double album Warrior Rock: Toyah On Tour.
Setlist from 1982 tour: Good Morning Universe, Warrior Rock, Danced, Jungles Of Jupiter, It’s A Mystery, Castaways, Angel & Me, Brave New World, The Packt, Thunder In The Mountains, We Are, I Want To Be Free, Dawn Chorus, War Boys, Ieya.
Toyah Newcastle Mayfair 1980 & Durham University 1981
My first recollections of Toyah Willcox are of seeing her performances in the seminal punk film “Jubilee” and the film of the Who’s “Quadrophenia”. That started my interest in her and I went to see her live on four occasions I the years between 1980 and 1982. It may not be cool to admit it now, but I was a bit of a fan at the time, and enjoyed her life performances. You have to admit that this lady has achieved a lot including 8 Top 40 singles, over 20 albums, two books, over 40 stage plays and 10 films, and many TV shows. She is also, of course, married to enigmatic prog king Robert Fripp.
I first saw Toyah live on the 1980 IEYA tour, when she called at Newcastle Mayfair on 5th June 1980. This was her first visit to the north east, and I had been waiting for some time for a chance to see her. At the time Toyah was seen as being part of the punk scene, although she said “I don’t use punk whatsoever because my philosophies are so different, my morals are so straight. I’m not a punk, I’m a modern woman.” I recall the gig as a joyous, crazy affair. Toyah live was a manic bundle of energy, charging around the stage, screaming, rolling around, totally into the performance. The band weren’t far behind her, either. The music used dynamics, soaring choruses and thumping beats to drive the gig along. Great fun, and very impressive. Toyah was a serious artist and a real contender at the time.
This was before she yielded to the charts and the hit making machinery. “At some of our gigs the kids go bananas! But this one time it was particularly bad. A riot started before we’d even leapt on stage. I was furious, ‘cos a lot of kids wanted to hear us! I didn’t know what to do, so I stomped off till everyone calmed down!” (Record Mirror, 1980). A live album was recorded during the tour, at Wolverhampton Lafayette a couple of weeks after the Mayfair gig. The track listing is: Victims of the Riddle, Indecision, Love Me, Visions, Tribal Look, Bird in Flight, Danced, Insects, Race Through Space, Ieya. I guess the set at the Mayfair will have been similar.
In early 1981 Toyah toured university student unions; I attended a wild packed gig at Dunelm Ballroom Durham University on 26th January. Toyah was on the verge of massive chart success. The EP “Four by Toyah” would soon be released, which featured the hit “Its a Mystery”.