Photo of Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp on stage

Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp – “Sunday Lunch” – Cheltenham 1st October 2023

Accompanying me for this gig was a friend who started his musical journey at the same moment in time as myself – late 70s to early 80s – and aside from our ailments, all we talk about is music. However, little did I know the entire night was to be all about relationships…

The grandiose setting would have seemed incongruous a few decades ago for the Punk-pixie Toyah Willcox. The galleried space and Corinthian columns are very much of the classic style. However, I guess the contemporary Toyah too is very much the classic heritage act.

Together with her husband Robert Fripp, the duo have been framing their love of music with regular “Sunday Lunch” uploads on YouTube. The covering of classic songs has amassed a huge following and even bigger reactions. The premise is one of fun and self-parody. Tonight was no different…

As the statesmen of the stage, Fripp took to his stool, after offering an unconditional kiss for his iconic guitar. Although, for the remainder of the gig the guitarist’s unflinching gaze was reserved, hereon in, for his wife of 37 years. Unapologetically, their relationship was at the crux of the show.

Mocking her husband with genuine affection, Toyah introduced each song with their connection to the tune in question. The friendship forged with Blondie introduced the homage to the band’s cover. The notion that Robert Plant joined the pair for a meal at the Angel in Pershore was a confession that revelled in its mundanity. Last minute dashes across the globe from Bali to Bognor were highlighted with tales of Carol Decker holding court.The stories kept coming, not just as name dropping opportunities but to show the connection with the business and the artists.

Robert Fripp’s connection to the world of music is legendary to talk in clichés. However, Fripp’s tuning and playing is far from clichéd. For tonight though he was content to watch his energised wife and conduct the band from his stool…

The six members of the band for the night’s gig consisted of consummate professionals and artists. Clearly exhaustive rehearsals ensured there was no need for spontaneous ad-libs. The knowing smiles and collective sense of complicity were obvious. The highly burnished performance simply underlined the main protagonists’ desire to deliver a night they could be proud of…

The cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid passed the assessment for reimagined rock. ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man was fashioned into a dapper cover. The new version of Relax – after Willcox and Fripp had been “approached by Trevor Horn” – provoked a climax of appreciative applause. Billy Idol’s White Wedding was an obvious choice for Mrs. Fripp to include, according to the singer. The marriage of Toyah’s voice and the band’s musicality shone like 18 carats of commitment.

Adorned in a sequined cocktail dress, Toyah danced and pranced all night, savouring the chance to make the stage her own. Her relationship with her audience is never taken for granted. As stated on the night, her heroes are the ones who pay to turn up.

For those that turned up in their numbers to witness the “Sunday Lunch” tour, it was obvious they left satisfied as this was a musical carvery which offered up more than “meat and two veg”; I don’t mean the slang term, although, Toyah is an “incorrigible flirt”…just ask her old Man!

By: The Swilgate Scuttler
Photo redit: David Singleton

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