Friday, 24 July 2015

It Came From Japan #2: Toquiwa

In the Autumn of 2012, MrsRobster and I trotted along to The Gate in Cardiff to see The Wedding Present play their classic 'Seamonsters' album in full as part of the tour for the record's 21st Anniversary. But for once, the talking point was not about another stirling performance by the boy Gedge and his gang, but a group of utterly bonkers Japanese girls who our hero had spotted in Japan and brought back to the UK with him.

Toquiwa started their set in front of a couple of dozen onlookers. By the end, the place was nearly full and people were going mad for them! The thing is, they're not the sort of band where you wander in during their set, check out a couple of songs, then go get another beer. This lot compelled you to watch them. Right from the outset they made jaws drop. How many bands do you know who open their set with a cover of the Spice Girls' Wannabe and succeed in making it sound so ridiculous, you suddenly realise why the 90s were so shit? When you've got this crazy Japanese woman, adorned in bright colours and face paint, striding up to audience members yelling "I tell you what I want / What I really really want" in their faces in a thick Japanese accent, while a guitarist with blue hair and a drummer who stands up make a right racket behind her, it's difficult to ignore. That song was made for Toquiwa, not a bunch of fake, manufactured music industry puppets.

And so for half an hour, Toquiwa bewildered, bemused and befuddled everyone who dared enter the auditorium. But love them or loathe them, they were undoubtedly never forgotten. When they launched into a version of the Weddoes' own Kennedy, the place damn near erupted. With laughter, mainly, but in an affectionate way.

David Gedge signed Toquiwa to his Scopitones label and released their self-titled debut album. "I’ve never seen an audience blown away by a support band quite like Toquiwa," the great man himself once said. You know, he's not far wrong...


And here's a couple of live clips just to give you some idea of Toquiwa's exuberant performances:


  1. Fantastic -just the thing to set you up for a Friday

  2. I caught a Marc Riley session they did on that trip and was similarly blown away. Good fun.

  3. I can see why this would have been a jaw dropper. As Swede said, good fun.

    On another topic, just wanted to make sure you saw the big wet kiss Pitchfork gave to Gwenno's album today (an 8.0!). I know this was one of your Welsh picks.

  4. Most brilliant stuff, thanks for that!