Toyah – Up Close & Personal at the Corn Hall

Perhaps the first British singer to be known only by her first name, Toyah entertained the Corn Hall with a string of post punk hits from the early 80s, and while for those of us of a certain age it was a treat to revisit them, it was also a revelation to hear them reinvented for acoustic guitar and vocals.

Flanked by two superb guitarists, and backed by video and still images, Toyah Ann Willcox proved to be a slick and accomplished performer. Opening on Good Morning Universe, she mixed lesser known gems with some cosy chit chat as well as big hitters like Thunder in the Mountains. These stripped down versions of her extensive back catalogue revealed not only how good these songs are, but what a fine voice she has.

Having closed the first half with a surprisingly early appearance of It’s a Mystery, the focus shifted to covers after the interval, and while Rebel Yell and Echo Beach were fun, she was always at her best, and most engaging, when singing her own material. It was, after all, I Want to Be Free followed by an encore of Lyea that won her a standing ovation.

By David Vass