EIGHTIES’ pop star Toyah will play Pocklington Arts Centre on March 3 on her up-close-and-personal Posh Pop Tour.
Her “lively cinematic sound” will combine Toyah’s vocals with keyboards and stand-up bass in her arrangements of such hits as It’s A Mystery, Thunder In The Mountains and I Want To Be Free, modern-day works Sensational and Dance In The Hurricane and selections from last autumn’s Posh Pop album.
These will be complemented by stories from her colourful 40-year career that has gained YouTube momentum latterly with Toyah’s Sunday Lunch videos with husband Robert Fripp, drawing ten million views since being started in lockdown. A new season was launched last weekend with their quickfire take on The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks.
Toyah: Posh Pop Tour, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, March 3, 8pm. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklkingtonartscentre.co.uk.
AHEAD of her Pocklington show, Martin Hutchinson profiles Birmingham-born singer, actor, television presenter and writer Toyah Willcox.
ONCE known as the “Punk Princess”, Toyah has proved that she is no one-trick-pony. She is an actor of note, featuring in films such as Jubilee, Quadrophenia and Ghosts Of Borley Rectory and the TV shows Shoestring, Minder, Kavanagh QC and Maigret.
She supplied her voice to the animated Mr Bean series and Teletubbies and has ‘done’ Shakespeare, playing Miranda in Derek Jarman’s 1979 film version of The Tempest.
To most of us, however, Toyah is a singer, who took the charts by storm when she first erupted on the scene in 1980. After five releases that failed to interest the mainstream Top 40, despite going top ten in the independent charts, Toyah broke through with the Four From Toyah EP, featuring the fantastic It’s A Mystery that propelled it to number four.
It was to be the first of four consecutive Toyah number ones in the UK independent charts. I Want To Be Free and Thunder In The Mountainswere top ten mainstream hits too and another EP, Four More From Toyah, came next.
Toyah has notched up ten chart albums, including Anthem, which peaked at number two in 1981. The Court Of The Crimson Queen – a reference to her husband Robert Fripp, whose band King Crimson’s breakthrough album was 1969’s In The Court Of The Crimson King – returned her to the album charts after a 33-year gap in 2008.
Last August, she released Posh Pop, an album recorded during lockdown, whose ten tracks each have an accompanying video, filmed mainly in Toyah’s Worcestershire home as well as Pershore Abbey.
Posh Pop went to the very top of the independent charts and reached number 22 in the mainstream charts, making it her highest-charting album since 1982.
All the songs were written by Toyah and her long-standing collaborator Simon Darlow and Bobby Willcox contributed guitar. Who’s he? He just happens to be husband Fripp under a pseudonym.
The album’s lyrics deal with such subjects as letting go of the past (Levitate), teleconferencing (Zoom Zoom) and the need for leadership (Monkeys).
Levitate, Zoom Zoom and the anti-war protest song Summer Of Love have been released as singles, while Take Me Home is a sequel to Danced from Toyah’s 1979 album, Sheep Farming In Barnet
Writer Darlow’s childhood dream of being an astronaut was the ignition for Space Dance and The Bride Will Return was inspired by Israa al Seblani, a bride whose wedding was disrupted by the 2020 Beirut explosion that killed more than 200 people. She was having her wedding portraits taken at the time.
“[The] song is very much to celebrate the beauty of the brides around the world, who’ve not been able to have their weddings during lockdown,” says Toyah, who married Fripp in 1986.
Now, Toyah is heading around the country in February and March with her Posh Pop band, presenting intimate versions of her classic singles, interspersed with tracks from her new album, and audiences could be in for a few eye-openers as some songs will be performed acoustically.
Already, several songs on Posh Pop have become fan favourites, sitting comfortably alongside her greatest hits.
Now 63 but looking decades younger, Toyah Willcox is still a pocket powerhouse and never fails to put on a magnificent show. Posh Pop in Pock is not to be missed.