Toyah/Star Dame –

Corporation, Sheffield, Sunday 6th February, 2022

Well it was only two days ago I was last here, okay in the sister venue upstairs but it still counts right? Anyways, cut to tonight and we are in the Corps big live room for some fantastic female fronted performance with regard to both the headlining and supporting act too.

Set List: You're My Friend/Let Me Out/Come Together (The Beatles)/It's Time/I'm Ready/Creeping/Saffron Walden/Dirty Old Crow/Pink Stuff.

Star Dame who are based here in Steel City grab us quickly with their uniquely stylised, kinda avant-guard and experimental left of centre rock that have elements of Royal Blood, The White Stripes, Public Image Ltd and even a feel of Frank Zappa at various points too.

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The duo, as they themselves were 'born out of lockdown in Sheffield in July 2020' comprise of Marija Kons (Guitar/Vocals), originally from Lithuania & Colchester born, Dave Burgoyne (Drums/Synth) which prove to be very much a hybrid when Mr. B plays both instruments at the same time – something none of us had ever witness ever before.

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Standouts in the set included the opening positivity 'You're My Friend'; a marvellous take of that Abbey Road Beatle Classic 'Come Together' with its aggressive and sultry moments; the moody bluesy 'Dirty Old Crow' and the Oi Oi Oi fast punk of closer 'Pink Stuff' that has a cracking helping of flowing, well-structured blues-work in there too.

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A local outfit that are definitely well worth seeing. They have an EP out soon so be sure to look out for that! See them at venues in Sheffield such as The Church House & The Washington in the very near future!

Set List: Echo Beach (Marth & The Muffins)/Thunder In The Mountains/Dance In The Hurricane/Neon Womb/Levitate/Obselete/Summer Of Love/Ieya/It's A Mystery/Good Morning Universe/Space Dance/Brave New World/Rebel Run/Sensational/I Want To be Free/Take Me Home.

Well its been 10 years since this legendary lady embarked onto this stage but she's back again in her wondrous glory. A full band in tow but what is strange is the fact that there is no drum kit to be seen but instead a pair of bongos. The drum sounds instead come from the keyboards I guess – well it's less to hug around right?

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The band line-up for the tour is Manolo Polidario & Chris Wong (Both on Guitar), Chloe Du Pre (Keys) and Mike Nichols (Bass) who are truly solid with the majority of them only being toddlers or not even born when the likes of 'It's A Mystery' was bothering the UK charts and beyond! Mrs. Fripp even said that Manolo wasn't even a sperm at the time – yep she tells it like it is!

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Toyah is full of warm, loving, polite, genuine grace as well as plenty of banter & stories filled with biographic intrigue and humour in-between songs. She'd actually be good doing her own 'Spoken |Word' Tour too – hey there's a thought...

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Anyway, as you may or may not know the new album in came out out on 27th August 2021, entitled 'Posh Pop' that she wrote during the lockdown with Robert Fripp taking care of most of the instruments and several songs are knocked out from it tonight.

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Early on she apologised for being overdressed! Well if you have seen any of her and Robert's 'Sunday Lunch' clips you'll know where I am coming from, where they get all dressed up with Toyah herself often performing songs stood on the kitchen table – brilliant!

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Well sadly, there's no 'Enter Sandman' or 'Too Drunk To Funk' in the set but we do get a fantastic take of 'Echo Beach' to make up for it which seems far more fitting to be honest. In fact, it's not often an artist starts a set with someone else's song – though I've seen a small handful do it. Saying this, she did feature on 2015's 'Desire' album!

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We find out that Sheffield means a lot to her because one of her early songs of her career which was very unlike her previous material, was thought to be very much a sink or swim moment. But when she performed it in this very city, the people here went went ballistic for it and helped it fly up the charts. I forget which number it was – my bad!

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Toyah thanked a lady at the front for being there at every one of her 'Proud's Cabaret All-Stars' Shows last November – a type of thing not embarked on before by her personally. Toyah held onto her hand and said how much confidence she had given her for being there in the audience and also mentioned her lovely wife too. It was done with genuine love and passion and you knew that she totally meant every single word.

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Some of her old albums are now being re-released on vinyl where she joked that she got her order in for 'Anthem' at the cutting plants before lockdown since you have to put them in way in advance. Furtherly saying, she is not Adele and cannot get a few million done at once but a few thousand and that we should look out for releases soon.. in fact, 'Toyah, Toyah, Toyah' is already coming out via Cherry Red... here's to the others on their way in future months!

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Plenty of songs stood out in the set for example hits like the fast catchy, almost operatic at times 'Thunder In The Mountains'; the hot off the desk, blasting rocker 'Space Dance' with its Bowie-feel; the beautiful poppy 'Good Morning Universe' and newer material which came about her reading about levitation and influenced the song 'Levitate' while the pandemic was on. It's one hell of a number that at times reminds me of Hawkwind for some reason or another.

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Then what about the old gem that is 'Ieya' – with its Who lyric like moments and Ultravox groove to it. A cut that came around the time when Toyah had been in the film Quadrophenia alongside Sting. Talking of 'Quad', she said it was a very clever film because it made out that it only happened in Brighton but in fact the Mods-Vs-Rockers situation took place all over the UK.

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And how can I fail to mention the absolute milestone both in studio and live setting that is the riveting in-your-face 'I Want To Be Free' that she fully engages everyone with. New number 'Take Me Home' is an anthemic epic and perfect live closer which I can see stopping in her set for many years to come. It was placed where the encore song usually goes which made a change from the typical walk-off, when most acts come back on anyway.

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It's incredible to think that this UK multi-talented Icon is now 63 since she looks so, so good. You'd never think she was that age while watching her performance.

10/10

 

By Glenn Milligan