When I was ten years old I fell in love for the first time. Her name was Kim. She was an older woman. That was when I heard Kim Wilde’s cover of The Supremes’ hit ‘You Keep Me Hanging on’. I’d never actually heard the original version of the song at that time, but listening to it now it’s Kim who really owns that song. Hers was one of those rare occasions when the cover totally knocks the original for six. I know what you’re thinking. A guy who grew up in the eighties having a crush on Kim Wilde. Hardly an original story, is it? Didn’t that every guy growing up in that era? But as I grew up, her songs stayed with me. That one song was just the start of a love affair that would go on for many years. Every good and bad time I’ve had has been soundtracked by one of her songs. Every break up, and the recovery of those break up has been to one of her huge back catalogue. So when I heard she was coming to a venue near me with her Christmas party tour, I knew I had to be there. It was to be the first time for this life long fan.
The first thing of note was the venue itself. Many times have I looked at Holmfirth’s Picturedrome and thought what a great little venue it looked, but I had previously never stepped inside. It is an intimate venue that makes it possible to get up close and personal with the act you go to see. It was perfect. Back in her day you would have been likely to see Kim in larger venues and arenas. So I was really pleased to get the opportunity to see her in such a place. The second thing that struck me was the audience. It was an older crowd, obviously (probably many men who had similar crushes back in the day – And probably still now) but a dedicated one. Even before she came on stage there was a real feeling of anticipation, erupting into an excited, rowdy bunch, who have all stayed loyal to their idol even all these years on.
We were treated to an impressive two hour set. The first half of it was hit after hit after hit, kicking off with ‘Never Trust A Stranger’ from 1988’s ‘Close’ album. She entered stage left in the black jeans and leather jacket that she rocked in the eighties. The crowd sang along to every word of the set opener, and carried on as she ploughed through classics such as ‘Cambodia,’ ‘View From A Bridge,’ and ‘The Second Time’. The majority of tracks being from the eighties. But that was her golden era, so it’s only right that they should be. She had more hits than any other female artist in the eighties, and hearing them played one after the next was a real treat. Few tracks were featured from her nineties albums, but ‘If I Can’t Have You’, a new song from her nineties greatest hits album sounded great and got everyone dancing.
The second half of the show was all about Christmas. Kim is known for her collaboration with the late Mel Smith on their cover of ‘Rocking Around The Christmas Tree’. Lately the more famous version is one reordered on a mobile phone on a tube train. Kim and her brother Ricky were ‘over-refreshed’ on their way home from a Christmas party and treated fellow commuters to an inpromptu version of the track. It made its way on to YouTube, and over two million hits later, and it’s still doing the rounds. There is a newly recorded version on her recently repackaged Christmas album ‘Wilde Winter Songbook’. It was one of several tracks taken from the album to be played, including a new track written for the album ‘New Life’. I may be wrong, but I think there was even a tear in her eye as she sung it.
We all knew it wasn’t over as she left the stage. The crowd chanting ‘USA’ was a clear sign that people were hungry for her biggest hit. Several songs over two encores, including an amazing new cover of Talk Talk’s ‘It’s My Life,’ and it all came down to that one song, ‘Kids In America’. It was obviously the biggest moment of the night. Add to that a scattering of fake snow covering the crowd, and that was just about a wrap.
I don’t know what it was about this set that made it so special. There is the special bond between Kim and her fans that was clearly there. Add to that the relationship between her and her band. With her brother and niece on stage too, it was a real family affair, and they clearly loved playing together. Of course there is the Christmas spirit that gets everyone in the right mood, and the abundance of festive hits made it impossible to not get that Christmassy feeling. But I think what did it for me, was that she really wanted to be there. So many artists and bands reform or come out of retirement because the bills need paying. But this is clearly an artist with a love of performing, and for making her fans happy. Her obvious love for the venue and the sleepy village that surrounded it suggested that she may return. Fingers crossed for Christmas 2016.