I Was A Teenage Toyah Fan 5: Omens and Requiems

"There was a group of kids who started to call themselves the Angels and Demons who'd wait outside the stage door every night from me arriving at about five to me leaving at about eleven. Every night for five months. They'd wait at the door, getting pissed as newts. They'd nick tables from local restaurants and have street parties. No end of phone calls from the police complaining about them. They now have reunions every two weeks at the pub across the road. I got very inspired by them. Most of 'Love is the Law' was provoked by them."

Toyah interview by Mick Mercer in Zig Zag, February 1984
As has been documented elsewhere, I went off to university. It was quite odd really. There I was having just made a load of new friends in the Angels and Demons (we'd already started having our reunions at various central London pubs every weekend after Tanzi had finished) and all of a sudden I had to leave all that behind and begin a new life as a student in Brighton.

Or perhaps not. London and Brighton were only 49 minutes apart by train (strangely this journey time has gone up to 53 minutes in the intervening years) and with a Young Person's Railcard a ticket was only £2.90 return.

Toyah had been a bit less accessible that we were used to throughout the autumn. In September, Hayley, me and a couple of others had been up to BBC Oxford Road in Manchester to see her record a TV show with Mark Curry. By this point Toyah had taken on the services of a new PA/Manager (I never could work out which), Kate. Kate was earnest and efficient but did at least seem to take us Angels and Demons seriously; this was not only pleasant but felt like a departure from usual record company policy.  I suspect that Toyah'd had something to do with this; she'd brought Kate along to the Mermaid Theatre one day during Tanzi to meet all of us and Kate had asked us all questions, seemingly quite interested in us and our relationship with her new charge.

Whilst Toyah was recording her interview we sat in the BBC  Oxford Road foyer with Kate and Tom watching Top of the Pops.  We felt oddly grown up. Tom seemed really into the video of Genesis's "Mama" (the song where Phil Collins sounds like he's being sick), whereas Kate seemed to enjoy UB40's "Red Red Wine" more and knelt up in her chair dancing...

After our trip to Manchester, October and November felt like bleak Toyahless months, although she did write to me at university. Meanwhile the Angels and Demons' reunions continued uninterrupted.
There was a tour coming up to support the newly released Love is the Law. Toyah reappeared with her hair dyed black (which was in fact her natural colour) with purple highlights and paid a repeat visit to Harty towards the year's end; this time with all of us in the front row.

Afterwards Harty quipped "You wouldn't think Toyah would be old enough to have so many children!"

What goes on tour...
The tour was upon us. I planned to go to 8 out of the 19 gigs, perhaps not as impressive as it could have been but not a bad start. Newly empowered by the Midland Bank account I'd opened as an undergraduate student, I'd sent off cheques and stamped addressed envelopes to a variety of venues across the UK. Now I just had to work out how to get to them. As for what to do after the gigs, well I recklessly decided I'd make it up as as I went along. Something would turn up.

The first one I had a ticket for was easy, I thought. Margate. That was in Kent. I was in Sussex. Shouldn't be that difficult to get to, I imagined. I decided to go by train and not via London.

Perhaps this was a mistake as the journey ended up taking all afternoon and I had to change at least three times. Still I'd left in plenty of time and even though it was already dark by the time I rolled up at the Winter Gardens, everyone was still outside. One or two of us had already braved the wilds of Loughborough, Blackburn, Halifax and other far flung destinations but for the bulk this was where the tour began.

As soon as the doors opened we made a beeline for the front, the best standing room in the house. However, by the time the support group - Jonathan Perkins' Silver Spurs - had been and gone I was dying for a piss. I wondered it it was possible to set my kidneys working in reverse. Perhaps not. In the end I don't know how I managed it but somehow struggled through the crowd to the toilets and back to my spot in the middle, elbows on the stage.

For the first time I was aware of Toyah had employed the services of a backing singer, Miriam. For some reason this didn't sit right with me, although to be honest even from where I was standing it was difficult to hear her. Besides, any misgivings I might have had about this new line up were dispelled by the quality of the show itself.

As diehard fans we had started to develop our own folklore and received wisdom around Toyah's songs; the "old material" (in other words anything pre-It's a Mystery) was held in particularly high esteem. This was partly because it was more raw and alternative but largely I suspect because the average Top of the Pops watching casual fan didn't know about it. Imagine our delight though when the new set started with Elusive Stranger and Our Movie, two tracks from 1979's Sheep Farming in Barnet. Tracks unheard live for years! It was just like the old days, we all thought (despite all of us being too young to have been going to gigs in the "old days").

After the show, the other (older) Chris introduced some of us to this girl who had a car and her own flat in Sittingbourne; she ended up giving a handful of us a lift back there and we all sat up for hours. It only occurred to me the following morning waking up hungover in her living room that she and The Other Chris had designs on each other, a fact confirmed by the fact that when me and the others left for the station, he remained behind.

Hammersmith Odeon again. Guildford Civic Hall. It was at the latter that we spotted someone wandering around with "Angels and Demons" written on the back of their jacket. Someone we didn't know. Someone who had obviously seen Toyah mention us in an interview and was chancing their arm.

Eddie immediately started joking how it was weird that we didn't remember our old friend what's-their-name. Lee however went over to them, asked a few questions, explained the situation and told them to take the jacket off.

They complied, oddly. In the cold light of adulthood this whole thing sounds ridiculous, but back then we were incensed that someone was pretending to be one of us; them disrobing on a cold December evening once they'd had the facts pointed out to them seemed only right and proper. Still, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Other little gangs started to spring up, all named after Toyah songs. The Urban Tribesmen. The Warboys. The Elusive Strangers.

The next couple of gigs were in Middlesborough and Newcastle - a bit far for me (nearly Scotland!) but I'd made plans to attend all the dates after that. I caught the National Express coach up to Liverpool and met up with Lunar outside the Royal Court. I was early enough to see Toyah when she arrived as well. She said we could leave our rucksacks in the coach's luggage compartments to save us lugging them into the venue.

The gig was rather spoilt by a brace of belligerent Scouse lads who spent the first half of the show gobbing at Toyah. Eventually she lost her temper but rather than storming off she channeled her anger into a very aggressive (and impressive) version of Angel and Me singing the lyrics directly into the faces of the spitting boys. They responded by chanting You're shit! You're shit! at her between songs.

Tom suddenly popped up from behind the barrier like a jack-in-the-box and grabbed the lead shitty-gobster by the lapels.

"Who's shit?" he asked quietly. The shitty-gobster brothers were persuaded to vacate their position at the front of the stage and moved back. I could still hear them whining at each other for several minutes.

"Ah'm just gonna twat a few 'eads."

A few seconds later I felt an unbelievably hard clout on the top of my head. I'd been twatted. Luckily I have a very hard skull, so I turned round to see where the blow had originated (as if I didn't know). There, about three bodies or so away through the crush was one of the shitty-gobsters starting at me with a ridiculously clich├ęd Yeah? You startin'? Come and 'ave a go then! stance complete with weasel sneer and spindly finger gestures. It didn't make sense. He'd hit me. Why was he acting as if I'd started it?

Fortunately it was very difficult to move in the crowd. I ignored him and received a second twat for my trouble. Lunar managed to slide though the throng and within a couple of songs ended up directly behind the twatter. He leaned his elbows on the idiot's shoulders and looked over at me with an Is this the guy? expression. I responded with a silent Yes.

Lunar was very tall. He still is. As soon as they saw who was looming over them, the troublemakers disappeared.

Toyah had obviously had enough and departed without playing an encore. Outside afterwards Lunar and I were alarmed to discover that the coach had already driven off. With our rucksacks. Luckily a friendly local fan Chris Wilkinson, whom we knew through the fan club, said we could crash on his floor. We were grateful for a roof over our heads - but good grief it was cold without our sleeping-bags!

The next day we set off for Manchester, again via coach. I was wondering how we were going to find Toyah and the band - the Manchester Apollo gig was the following night so all we could do was hope that we'd be able to track them down. As it happened it was easier than we thought. Manchester Coach Station was in the city centre, slap bang next door to the ornate Britannia Hotel and as we walked out into Portland Street who should we spot but Joel Bogen, Toyah's guitarist and songwriting partner.

Apparently Toyah was off doing an interview with Piccadilly Radio. We explained our predicament and Joel told us that the driver had gone off and parked the coach somewhere and that we should hang around here until he got back. As we chatted we noticed a couple of girls hanging around outside the main entrance - from their attire obviously waiting for Paul Young who was also in town that day. Shortly after that Mr Young himself turned up; Lunar and I were shocked by the way he completely ignored his fans and just swept past them into the hotel, obviously in a bit of hurry to lay his hat somewhere.

As if to emphasise the difference between our idol and this newcomer, Joel suggested we come and wait inside and took us upstairs to the landing. At one point Tom emerged from a lift and from the expression on his face looked as if he was about to explode; luckily Joel was still on hand to explain that we were just waiting for the driver.

We eventually retrieved our rucksacks from the coach in a car park behind Manchester Piccadilly station and spent the night in a quiet corner of the coach station, strangely comforted by the thought that Toyah was in the building next door. The following night after the gig we slept here again, having failed to locate any friendly locals upon whom we could prevail for some floor space. And then it was off to Sheffield. I was starting to feel a bit spaced out by this point due to lack of sleep and the coach ride across the moors was a delirious semi-conscious journey.

Sheffield City Hall. By now there was a danger that all the gigs would start to blur into one. Even Toyah seemed a bit zoned out when she turned up and said hello at the stage door. Joel meanwhile had started referring to Lunar as "Lulu". I do remember the show being a good one though, although afterwards the prospect of a third night out in the open was less than pleasant. As it turned out we didn't get any sleep at all - having just bedded down for the night in Sheffield coach station we were awakened buy three or four local teens who seemed a little perturbed to find us there and suggested (politely, mind) that we go elsewhere. They obviously had other plans for the place that evening. Lunar and I wandered the streets and eventually ended up in an all night cafe where we spent the remaining hours until daylight making an egg sandwich and several cups of tea last as long as we could.

Once on the coach I slept all the way to Crawley. Despite the fact that I must have changed at Victoria Coach Station, I don't remember the interruption to the journey.

By the time we arrived at Crawley Leisure Centre it was already dark again. Lunar and I rejoined the rest of the tribe all of whom were energetic and perky. Disappointingly a lot of them didn't seem that interested in hearing of our experiences in The North although Hayley was curious and listened to my recounting of the tale paying particular attention to the bits with Toyah in them.

Security at the Leisure Centre left a bit to be desired. A handful of us discovered a doorway which led to a darkened staircase at the top of which was a glass fronted room looking down on the auditorium in which Toyah was currently soundchecking.

It was weird. She was just wandering slowly around the stage in a coat, singing Rebel Run in a low voice. A million miles away from the hyperactive bounce! bounce! bounce! bounce! of her usual performance.  She looked frightening and serious.  In a way we were peering behind the curtain at the mechanism of the music business, the checking of the sound divorced from the light and fury of the actual performance and were disconcerted by what we'd discovered.

Next she rehearsed The Vow with the added instrumentation of a saxophone, borrowed along with the musician controlling it from the Silver Spurs support band. It sounded great like this and Toyah could be heard cursing the fact that they hadn't thought to include a sax on the original recording.

Eventually we were caught by a member of the Leisure Centre personnel. They didn't seem that cross though and merely escorted us back to the public area where we waited for the gig proper. After the show out in the car park Toyah spent a few minutes leaning out the window of her coach joking with us before driving off.

The following day was the last date of the main tour at Reading Hexagon. Reading wasn't too far from London, so once again most of us made it. This was notable for the Silver Spurs joining Toyah onstage for an encore of I Want To be Free along with our fellow Angel and Demon Abi. She'd been starting to suffer from barrier crush and had been dragged to safety by the bouncers. Recovering in the wings, she'd been spotted by Silver Spurs frontman Jonathan "Perky" Perkins who'd dragged her onstage with him for the encore much to Tom's chagrin. Apparently Perky had also attempted to take her backstage to the party afterwards but Tom had put his foot down and she'd been unceremoniously dumped outside the stage door.

A secret postscript
We'd learned at Reading that two more "secret" dates at The Marquee were to follow a few days later, a Christmas party, a thank you to the fans from Toyah who'd had a great year. Afraid that it would sell out in seconds we all trouped down there the next day and bought our precious tickets. It was going to be great. It was going to be even more like the mythical "old days" that none of us had actually experienced.

Admittedly, it did feel very different, hot and sweaty. This incarnation of The Marquee, in Wardour Street, had a much lower stage than we'd been used to and it was more difficult to remain upright with the pressure of the crowd bearing down on you from behind.  The first night I found myself next to fellow Angel and Demon Bob who rather unexpectedly asked me if I was gay. Somewhat out of the blue.  Apparently there had been some debate about this amongst some of the male members of our group, and Bob had been the one who'd drawn the short straw and had to ask me. The debate about my sexuality settled (I was straight even though I might have appeared a little feminine and camp at times) we settled down to enjoy the show.

The second night felt even wilder.  "Are you pissed already?" asked Toyah when she turned up to find us colliding out of control in the alleyway by the stage door. During the show Toyah seemed to have readjusted to playing at smaller venues and it felt like the best gig of the whole tour. Afterwards we all hung around in the bar, including, for some of the time, Toyah and the band plus Jonathan Perkins and the normally serious Kate who was obviously very drunk and started being oddly flirty and affectionate with me (and others) in a way that felt a bit... inappropriate. Eventually they all disappeared backstage again to continue the party and we made our way outside to do the same.

A couple of us got arrested.  When Toyah eventually emerged in the small hours she looked spaced out and tired. We didn't know it at the time, but it was the end of an era.  A handful of us trouped back to Abi's flat (she lived relatively nearby) and crashed out. It had been a great tour. Hopefully the next one would be even better.

We had no idea there wouldn't even be another tour for ten years.

Next time...
"Like everyone you said there'd be so much more to 1984". In a temporary absence of Toyah the Angels and Demons have to find other ways to pass their time.


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