Toyah – Acoustic, Up Close and Personal: Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond

THE once rebellious, wild woman of the British mainstream pop scene with her dangerously pink hair and fire in her eyes, Toyah Willcox still oozes charisma. I wonder if she and David Bowie had the same hairdresser?

The fire’s still burning bright, she still has an impish charm with a wicked splash of mischief and she looks great – the hair’s blonde now. “I’m not a natural blonde,” she explains, showing us an unflattering photo of her as a young child with dark hair. “I’ve been in this business for four decades and I’m 58 now and culturally I’m a punk rocker, oh and Toyah is my real name!” she grins, smoothing her hands over her sparkly, metallic, figure-hugging little black dress.

It felt like meeting up with an old friend; she talked about starring roles in iconic films like Quadrophenia, where she actually hit a policeman, and filming pop videos on horseback at 5am. At the same time she’s acting alongside Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier. Her stories are told with humour, passion and warmth; there’s nothing big-headed or arrogant here, just a genuinely lovely lady, passionate about her music, acting and life.

Of course she sang too with sensational accompaniment on acoustic guitars by Chris Wong and Colin Hinds. She did a fantastic cover of David Bowie’s Suffragette City and many of her own, uniquely styled hits including It’s a Mystery, I Want to Be Free, Ieya.

There is no mystery – she’s awesome.

Helen Brown