Date: 5 December 1986
Originally published in: Volkskrant (Netherlands)
Written by: Peter Koops
Like a typical singles artist, the popularity of pop idol Kim Wilde is as big as her most recent hit. Her fans aren’t really loyal then. In March last year, when she visited the Netherlands most recently, Wilde was in a creative deadlock. Her concert in the Congresgebouw in The Hague did not attact a large audience. Thanks to the hit ‘You keep me hangin’ on’, which has made her successful for the first time in years, the Muziekcentrum in Utrecht was as good as sold out.
A similarity between the two concerts is, that Wilde played most of ‘Teases & dares’ in The Hague, then her newest LP, and now almost everything from her recent, fifth LP ‘Another step’. Not a lot is left to the imagination where Kim’s setlist is concerned. It’s pop as a consumption article, the product that needs to be sold ‘the all new Kim Wilde’, is displayed with emphasis. Old hits are only on the repertoire to underline that her reputation wasn’t made yesterday.
Kim Wilde is part of a musical family. She is the face of the family business Wilde, a small hit factory, in which father Marty, brother Ricky and since recently also Kim write the songs, produce them and arrange them. But it would be an illustion to think that the 26 year old is finally standing on her own two feet. She is still a marionette, a blonde with a pout, whose physical appearance is exploited as much as her vocal talents. Although the borders of her vocal reach have been extended a little, Wilde’s voice still has something immature.
While the hit machine went very well during the beginning of the eighties, after some time her synthpop became a little subdued. Her vanishing popularity was only stopped with ‘Another Step’, which does not mean that the Wildes have made higher demands artistically. It is still smartly construed, hit-based teenybopper music without much social relevance.
From Wilde’s five man band keyboard player Jeff Hammer and saxophone player Richard Blanchard have remained since The Hague. The rhythm section, with bassist Gary Twigg and drummer Matthew Letley, played on Another Step. From that album most songs were played during the economically measured 90 minute concert. Inbetween hits like Cambodia, Kids in America, Chequered love and the version of You keep me hangin’ on, which could barely be distinguished from the original by The Supremes.
During Love blonde a parade of blonde vamps was shown in the background. At the beginning of the concert the image of the singer herself appeared, surrounded by the word Utrecht for the personal touch. Just in case the audience, or Wilde herself, doubted where the concert took place, or who the star of the evening was, because the Blondie-effect was also apparent in the hall.
A few words of Dutch also work miracles. When she had said a few words the audience was already very satisfied. In the way she added her physical presence to the family business Wilde she had a natural charisma. It’s only that charisma that keeps her from going through life as a one dimensional personality.