Toy Love, Live

Every day in May, to mark NZ Music Month, Gary Steel presents something local from his considerable behind. Personal archive, that is. Today’s surprise item?

The most misguided, wrong and frankly, embarrassing review I ever wrote: Toy Love, 1980.

Toy Love/Protons – Terminus
info_0810toylovetreeThis review is initial impressions only; first time Toy Love live.
Reading about Toy Love, it is immediately apparent that the band is critically favoured. There is some difficulty in general in print coming to terms with what the band is all about, and in describing their music.
And I am too – to put it bluntly – at a loss to describe exactly what it is about Toy Love that has the pulling power.
After all, the playing lacks the energy and punch usually associated with new wave. It is neither righteous, committed or as modern as The Cure axis, nor is their lack of tightness and “we don’t care” attitude channeled into the realm of Pil-ish avant-garde.
Their music could almost be described as pop without any notable melodic endowments that, through slovenly attitude/playing degenerates into atonal weirdo displays at irregular intervals.
It would seem that the popularity and so forth of the band really rests much on the awesome spectacle of Reginald Perrin lookalike Chris Knox, whose nasty, violence-inspiring visage always provokes some reaction in the audience.
It’s hard to talk about Toy Love. I was one minute filled with the spirit (?) of the whole thing and quite inspired by the power of the music/stage presentation (which, apart from Knox and co, featured slides and a TV on which screened the new Toy Love “face”). The next minute I was both bored and felt quite negative about the whole damn thing.
818262617-1About Toy Love I’m still undecided. For my palate, they’re too yobbish-nasty, as opposed to outraged-nasty. And, in any sane body’s terms, tonight’s performance was less than satisfactory, what with Knox’s voice giving in to laryngitis, the result being two very short sets.
The other annoyance factor was the venue, in which they squeezed too many people for comfort (god, am I sick and tired of other people’s smoke being blown in my eyes! Grrr!), and the predictable intimidating boys-in-blue turnout.
But back to the band. Despite what they would appear to stand for, Toy Love are seen as no more than a good sleazy boozy night out; that’s not modern, it’s rock’n’roll, and I don’t like it.
On first with two interminable sets were new locals The Protons. No novices, these, their first few numbers seemed quite interesting, but then rapidly deteriorated when they stretched things out beyond reasonable limits (to meet playing time requirements?) They sound a little too much like a jazz-influenced band trying to “be” new wave, which is somewhat unconvincing, specially with a name like that. Still, good luck to ‘em. GARY STEEL

Note from the author: I’m not going to justify the above review, exactly. It’s clearly nuts. I must have been on my high horse that week after having experienced The Gordons or Shoes This High or a band that was more my “thing” than Toy Love. I don’t remember the Toy Love gig clearly, but I think this was towards the end, and they had come back to NZ sounding rather too ‘professional’ after their Australian experience. It would have been very loud, and I was probably just grumpy from being jammed into a horrible pub and getting smoke blown in my face. Um, sorry…

One Comment

  1. 1980? Time flies.
    If I remember rightly it was an awful night. Wet and cold. The venue was packed… and full of smoke… and a few odd people… I had to be rescued from a woman who wanted to do me harm. Kept screaming abuse at me… why?
    That aside, I am sure that whole night was in black and white. Living colour had been suspended.
    Good gig!

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