IT’S a mystery. It really is. How can a 63-year-old dressed to kill in a glittery gold dress bounce around a stage like a manic teenager and still look divine in the process?
It’s exactly what Toyah Willcox did on Friday night (January 21) as she shook a rather polite and conservative Wokingham audience out of their torpor and (eventually) onto their feet. Thrillingly so. Toyah was born to perform and age ain’t going to get in the way. Whatever she takes, I want.
It’s A Mystery was a massive hit for Toyah in 1981 and in introducing it at the impressive Whitty Theatre (Lucklow House School) she admitted it changed her life. A song she was reluctant to take on board when she was first approached to sing it because of her connection with the punk scene, but one which received immediate widespread approval from her supporters.
Toyah, a pocket dynamo on stage, is as much a raconteur as a singer – she’s done some mean acting in her time, starring with Katharine Hepburn in the 1979 film The Corn Is Green. And her show is all the better for the fun insight she gives on an artistic career spanning more than 40 years – and a long-standing marriage to King Crimson founder Robert Fripp that goes back to 1986. If you read her latest blog on her website (Toyahwillcox.com) you can tell straightaway that they remain very much in love.
At various times. Toyah has flirted with most genres of music: punk, pop and music inspired by the Mods – she was Monkey in Quadrophenia. The result is an eclectic show musically. All the hits that made her a pop sensation in the 1980s get an airing – Thunder In The Mountains, I Want To Be Free and the night’s opener Echo Beach. And of course It’s A Mystery.
But the night was not just a nostalgic dip into the past. Toyah’s latest album, Posh Pop, is proof that Toyah wants to continue pushing boundaries. And she played a number of songs from the 2021 album that showed her music is as compelling as it was 40 years ago.
Zoom Zoom (a song about our obsession, fuelled by past lockdowns, for zooming), Summer Of Love and Space Dance (both immediately catchy tunes), Levitate, Rhythm In My House and Take Me Home (the night’s encore) were all enthusiastically received.
With Dance In The Hurricane (from In The Court Of The Crimson Queen) tugging at the emotions – a song about living with grief – and a quirky Neon Womb (1980) being unexpected highlights, this was a night when Toyah triumphed.
It’s a shame the audience was not a little younger because Toyah’s new music is as relevant today as It’s A Mystery was 41 years ago.
The Posh Pop Tour runs through until the end of March. If you want proof that the 60s are now the new 40s – while listening to some brilliant music – the whirling dervish that is Toyah will not let you down.