The eccentric performances from the married couple have been an unexpected highlight of the last year.
As we in Britain prepare for ‘Freedom Day’ – when people can finally do what they like in the face of growing Covid cases as opposed to the ‘doing what the hell they like’ that most people have been doing anyway (as a walk down any high street or a glance at a sporting event shows), it is perhaps time to look back at some of the unexpected pleasures of the lockdown era – because unless you are a complete anti-lockdown/anti-vax/Covid-denier type, you’ll have to admit that it hasn’t been all bad (and even if you are in that group, then you got to make new chums and have jolly days out protesting in Trafalgar Square). Leaving aside aspects of the Old Normal that any sensible person would like to see the back of, then there have been small pleasures that we might not have otherwise had. Let’s not pretend everything has been terrible, because it hasn’t.
We might all have our own ideas of what the unexpected pleasures of the Covid era have been – and we are happy to hear your own suggestions – but for us, one of the most fun has been the antics – yes, that’s the word – of Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp. We’ve been watching these YouTube videos with fascination and assumed that everyone else was too – but it seems that too many of you remain unaware of these extraordinary moments.
Now, I can almost hear eyebrows raising at this point, because if anything symbolises Covid-era awfulness (beyond the actual illness, obviously), it is the blinkered cries for attention from celebrities who found themselves starved of attention for a few days and went mad. We all remember that atrocious and blinkered Imagine video, after all. I had hoped that the New Normal might include the end of celebrity culture, but no – everyone is back grovelling and forelock-tugging to our rich and famous betters as though their lives depend on it. But I digress…
Anyway, the Toyah/Fripp Sunday Lunches might be another shameful cry for attention, but when the cry is at this level of eccentricity, who cares? Given the people involved, we might have been primed to expect something a bit… different. And boy, that’s what we got.
The idea is simple enough – Toyah and Robert – sometimes joined by Sidney Jake – perform a cover version in the kitchen. But the performances have been increasingly eccentric and bizarre, and Toyah’s outfits have become more extravagant and skimpy – enough to have made some of these videos age-restricted by the ever-moralising YouTube. The acts covered are eclectic, to say the least: Metallica, Nirvana, Heart, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Hawkwind, Judas Priest, Survivor, ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, and everyone seems to be having fun. For Fripp – whose reputation over the years has been as the ultra-serious and ruthless leader of King Crimson – this is a revelation and has probably done more for his reputation than the rest of his career put together. His finest work? Perhaps not, but certainly some of his most entertaining. It is less music and more performance art, and all the more fun for it.
Here are a handful of the performances – watch these and then explore further. You’ll probably vanish down a rabbit hole for a while, but it will be a worthwhile one.
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