Warrior Rock - The Changeling Tour

1982, Hammersmith Odeon, London

So by this point in time the Toyah Band had had 5 hit singles and two hit albums while I'd been in the band. The Changeling album had been recorded under a great deal of stress and released to 'average' reviews. For the relatively recently acquired commercial audience it was probably a bit too 'deep, dark and moody' but for us I think it was a perfect document of that time, for that particular group of people, and my favourite Toyah studio recording. Those studio recordings were a natural progression of the way that group, Toyah, Joel, Simon and myself, played music and songs together once we had got to know each other better, and the live performances on the summer 1982 tour were a perfect extension of that principle. Taking those two albums together, Anthem and The Changeling, on the road kind of capped the previous eighteen months work which had been pretty relentless. For me the whole tour was like one big party; in fact the whole Toyah experience since January 1981 had been like one big party but if I were to take this tour apart from the rest, it was a big, BIG, BIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGG PARTY !!!!! My God ……

The tour in general was quite a long blur for me with one day morphing into the next caught up in a cycle of getting stoned, traveling, checking into a hotel, sound checking at the venue, eating if possible, getting more stoned, doing the gig, getting more stoned after the gig, doing the after gig meet and greet, getting more stoned still and then getting REALLY stoned into the night, sleeping if possible and then starting the whole process again the next day. Sounds mad I know but that's what it was like for me and I can't say I didn't enjoy it because I LOVED IT !!! I had enough money for partying and anything else I fancied and, what's more, it was such a long way from what I saw as my miserable and deprived life as a teenager. I was actually living the dream and having an absolute ball.

My set up on stage, whilst relatively simple, was still probably the most comprehensive I've ever had during my career because of the way it was mixed out front. I had an original late 1960's Ampeg SVT 300 Watt bass amp head and two matching 8x10" speaker cabinets, a Roland S555 Tape Chorus Echo which was engaged the whole time as part of my 'sound' and my black maple necked 1978/79 Fender Precision bass and, curiously enough, NO spare bass guitar. The complicated part was the number of channels I had that were being mixed together out front by Tig Lewis (R.I.P. another victim of heroin addiction) our wonderful sound man. I had two direct channels, one directly FROM the bass and one AFTER the effects and then TWO channels run from miking up the cabinets; it made for one FAT sound I can tell you. I'd always been fascinated by the trebly sound that Chris Squire got with YES and I went a bit further in trying to make the bass sound like a giant piano … that was the idea anyway. It can be heard most clearly on this album at the beginning of 'Danced' when the bass is loud and proud and JUST LIKE A GIANT PIANO !!! I also had a Roland tuner which I hated; over the years I've gradually lost the tuner from any set up I've had as my basses are ALWAYS in tune. If the bass moves at all for any reason i.e.. stage temperature or enthusiastic band mates bashing into me, then I tune up with what I can hear on stage … I hate any extra machinery or technical shite in the way. Non of my heroes had tuners and they all did very well !!!

On this tour there had been designed and constructed a sort of Egyptian influenced stage set with a couple of different levels that Toyah could run about on with her also having the freedom of using a radio mike. I remember largely sticking to the stage floor level where there was ample room to jump up an down and run across the stage which Joel and I did with much enthusiasm. We had become very aware of each other and where we were at any given time during show so the audience's focus was always in the right place. I think people think that with a band like this that you go out there and it just works on it's own BUT I always remind people that it's like being in a football team. There was always a lot happening onstage and we needed to communicate with each other constantly. Whilst we may have had a basic format each night, that format had to be flexible and in that way we kept it interesting, on edge and even dangerous so, one could say, you didn't know what was going to happen next. With the stage set came a set of curtains which made for a very tense and exciting opening to the show. We were dragged out of the dressing room every night by Alan Hornell our tour manager with me usually crying, 'Please Al … just one more drink, one more joint, one more line !!!'. We'd creep into position in the dark, get ourselves ready to start and then begin making those noises that can be heard on the record before the curtains opened then Simon would hit the opening drum fill to 'Good Morning Universe' as the curtains opened with the crowd screaming blue murder. I LOVED this opening to the concert … you can hear me making noises on the bass with my tape echo unit directly influenced by my love of Roger Waters bass work from Pink Floyd recordings, particularly 'One Of These Days' from 'Meddle' my favourite Floyd record. 

For the record there are some overdubs on this record which were done in The Marquee Studios at a later date before mixing. They were mainly done because of technical difficulties with some of the sounds recorded on the night. There are various lead vocals, backing vocals, keyboards and a couple of bass lines done again that were, in actuality, no different to what was originally done on the night. Listening to and watching clips from the Drury Lane concert the previous New Years Eve 1981 as a comparison, I can safely say that all our live performances were just about as good and accurate as they could be in relation to all the physical energy and performance that was put into them onstage. 

As far as the songs go on this album I love them all. Particular favourites are 'Good Morning Universe', 'Castaways', 'The Packt', 'Angel And Me' and our always and forever blistering version of 'IEYA'. As I said earlier, we had a basic format for the songs but also had the organic capability as a team to take those songs on different journeys on any given night. No wonder we were once sarcastically labelled as a pomp rock band … it was true … theatrical performance, suburb musicianship, good songs and a fantasy figurehead up front; almost like a pompous Ziggy Stardust (which I'd seen the last show of at Earls Court in 1973 as a fifteen year old) or Genesis in their Peter Gabriel-era mid seventies theatrical prime (I wasn't a fan!!!). It's a wonder to me that not a single date from this tour was ever actually filmed ...

The photographs on the inside sleeve of this double album reflect pretty accurately the way we were as a band from day to day. For all the apparent external pressures we had fun together before, during and after the shows. I think this album as a 'live' document, recorded at the height of Toyah-mania, is as good as any live record I've ever heard from any other band or artist. A fitting tribute to a band at the height of it's powers which was subsequently never as successful again. . All in all though, by now I was thoroughly drug dependent so my perception, retrospectively, could be viewed as a little skewed. For me the writing was on the wall even though I had tried to hang on out of a vague sense of love and loyalty; realistically I was going to move on even though, at the time, I didn't know to where … BUT … there was one more Toyah album that I had a small part in helping to make … 'Love Is The Law' … BUT between this album and my contribution to 'Love Is The Law' came a most unexpected and fortuitous upturn for me, Mike Oldfield's 'Crises' … 

Toyah On Tour - Warrior Rock