Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party featuring Nik Kershaw @ 02 Academy Birmingham, 19 December 2013 (Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown)

It’s Christmmmmmassssss! (in a Noddy Holder like scream!) And tonight we’re invited to a party with an 80’s festive vibe, Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party to be precise with support from former snood wearer Nik Kershaw.

Ticket sales sadly aren't the best tonight - if you are lucky there's 500 people in the main Academy tonight. But that hasn’t stopped some punters wearing Christmas hats and reindeer antlers and hopefully that won't stop the party either.

Starting off at 8pm we have Nik Kershaw. His star shone pretty brightly in the early 80’s - his first two albums selling well, singles spending in excess of an accumulative 60 weeks in the UK charts in 1984 and he got to appear at Live Aid at Wembley in ‘85. Commercial success may have waned since them but he’s continually recorded and regularly plays live. And at 8pm he appears on stage, minus the snood these days! "Good evening… are you looking forward to Christmas? I’ve borrowed Kim's band. If you know some of these join in - if you don't don't ‘cos that'll be rubbish."

First up a cracking rendition of 'Wide Boy' - before the drums start up and the tune comes in and we're into ‘The Riddle’. And we all sing along…

"Near a tree by a river there's a hole in the ground, where the old man of Aran goes around and around, in his mind is a beacon, in the veil of the knight, for a strange kind of fashion, there’s a wrong and a right, but he’ll never, never fight over you..."

For some bizarre reason I can quote these lyrics off pat. This may be a small crowd, but we don’t care; everyone cheers. And then we're into 'The One and Only.' Chesney eat your heart out (this be a Number 1 hit Kershaw wrote it for him). We sing along, Kershaw gets a great response. He needs to clear space in his garage (album plug here), so a track from his latest album ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ before we get ‘Wouldn't It Be Good.’ We're happy and we're dancing and we're singing. Kershaw still has great talent and vocals - he’s friendly and engaging, the party has started. And we clock that the bass player in Kim's band is Nick Beggs formerly of KajaGooGoo.

We're loving this little set; it may be Christmas but right here, right now it's summer as we join in to ‘Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.’ We grin and sing and Kershaw gets us singing the line alone, conducting the audience. Short and immensely fun set to get us in the party mood.

Kim Wilde holds the record of being the most charted female solo artist of the 80’s with 17 top 40 hits. And they just love her in Germany and Switzerland. With 80s a huge nostalgia, she's gained recent record contracts with major labels and this year issued another album - it being Christmas, smattered with festive tracks, it’s called ‘Wilde's Winter Wonderland.’

With just a 15 minute internal, Santa blares out hohoho! And Wilde takes to the stage belting out first track ‘Trust a Stranger’. She too gets a great response. Next up ‘View from a Bridge’. Again gets a good response; these are the hits and she’s belting them out one after one. Next up ‘Chequered Love’.

“Fantastic to be here...” as she's tells us what's going to happen in this evening’s entertainment. She's well chatty, bantering with the audience and is clearly excited to be here. As she goes for it on ‘Water on Glass’. As do the band, who are truly professional and class. Begg’s too is giving it some on his bass, the band contain a family affair - brother Nicky, who has written her hits over the past thirty years is on guitar and niece Scarlett is on backing vocals.

She hasn't done any Christmas shopping yet - it's overrated. And so to cover version ‘If I Can't Have You.’ She's good at getting the audience participating and we’re all clearly having a good time, people are boogying, dancing away. She says she's got a lot to smile about these days, she's so happy to be here after all these years. And then to a classic: ‘Cambodia’. Which we clap, clap, clap. Big cheers, before she sings the last line with Scarlett as the track rolls on. This is 80’s. So we get 12" remix.

The band have “buggered off” leaving Wilde with the two family members. Someone shouts, “I love you!” “Are you an English person?” she asks? He's Welsh. “I love you too...” She refers to her brother “...being a really good person to her drunk with on the tube…” (Check out the link on YouTube as her and her brother serenaded commuters…. this entertaining video has had over 2 million views). First track of this segment is ‘Four Letter Word.’ Wilde is chatty, yakking away with the punters; apparently she's getting forgetful in her old age - she doesn't know why? She wants it to snow, so she can make a snowman. Queue song: ‘Hey Mr. Snowman.’ A few tracks off her new album, ‘New Life’ has a ditty that rolls and rolls and is overlaid with vocals; with rising tunes the new tracks roll around the venue. “This is the last of the Christmassy song for a while…I recorded it with daddy…” who is 60’s legend Marty Wilde, and who also is still performing today, after 50 years in the business. He’s not here tonight but the other family members take on his duties. With a Japanese feel it’s ‘White Winter Hymnai’. Apparently we will be returning to Christmas later "in a very different way."

She declares she’s an 80’s girl and she loves singing 80’s song. And so her take on Erasure’s 'A Little Respect.' The band belt it out. Wilde and her band are very professional “... Thank you for coming out… thanks from an old girl… This one is for you.” She does yak, as they say she has the gift of the gab. And here is 'You Came.' And the set starts to crank to up again to 'Keep Me Hanging On.’

Quick break and back on akin with bunny ears and white fluffy coat, as this is Christmas! Kershaw is back too (on guitar not singing); he really is a tiny person. Wilde acknowledges local legends and goes for a Holder in her own unique style. Scream everybody: 'It's Christmasssssssssss....' And now for a bit of Wizard ‘I Wish it could be Christmas Everyday.’ It's literally snowing in the Academy. We're all feeling festive; Wilde places festive reindeer antlers on Kershaw’s head. This is her drunken tube song and the one she sang it with the late great Mel Smith for Comic Relief; ‘Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.’ Kershaw stands in for Smith in this one, except he's singing. The entire band have reindeer antlers on. And we get Santas rocking out on the screens behind.

“Thank you. Goodnight. Adieu.”

And for one final encore which starts up with electronic beat. Crowd clap. The not so Christmassy ‘Kids in America’. “Thanks so much - have a safe journey home and have a Happy Christmas!”

Well this was billed as a festive party. Nik Kershaw started us off by putting us in the mood and we grinned and danced and sung. Wilde and her band gave us a party - make us smile, feel festive and have a good time. This was a ‘smiley’ gig. Happy Christmas to one and all indeed.


Nik Kershaw Setlist:
Wide Boy
The Riddle
The One and Only
The Sky’s the Limit
Wouldn’t it be Good
I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Kim Wilde Setlist:
Trust a Stranger
View from a Bridge
Chequered Love
Water on Glass
The Second Time
If I Can’t Have You
Love in the Natural Way

Acoustic set:
Four Letter Word
Love Blonde
Wonderful Life
Hey Mr Snowman
New Life
White Winter Hymnai

A Little Respect (Erasure Cover)
You Came
You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Christmas Encore:
Merry Christmas Everybody (Slade Cover)
I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday (Wizard Cover)
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (with Nik Kershaw)

Encore II:
Kids in America

Review by: Zyllah Moranne-Brown
Photos: Ken Harrison

YouTube - Kim Wilde sings drunk on Tube -