Date: 10 December 1986
Originally published in: The Guardian (UK)
Written by: Adam Sweeting
The Kim Wilde phenomenon, if that’s what it is, is a family affair. Her father is Marty, the former Teenager In Love and Bad Boy, and brother and songwriter Ricky is an influential part of the set-up too.
Kim’s operation doesn’t seem to be run with quite the ruthless ambition of other great British chartbusting dynasties – one thinks here of Five Star, The Jam or the unloveable Gary Numan. Kim is still uncool enough to get all excited about playing in London and having hit records, which makes her easy to like but difficult to picture following in the footsteps of the hardboiled Madonna.
The house, she told us, was full of her friends and relatives (not that full, actually), so she said hello to them and a special hello to the rest of us, who she’d never met. She dedicates a song called Brothers to Ricky.
Who are Kim Wilde’s fans? At the door, bargaining with the security people, were a family group consisting of Mum, teenage son and daughter and an aunt in fake fox-furs. They headed for the balcony for a decent view. Inside, there were girls dressed like Kim and boys who doubtless dream of undressing Kim, and one or two gentlemen in dark suits who could easily have been representatives of snooker supremo Barry Hearn’s Romford Mafia.
Kim is undoubtedly luscious and pouting and has a voice to match, but seems a little uncertain what to do about it. The huge blow-up photos of her at the back of the stage suggest icy control and lethal inaccessibility, but her announcements are too breathless, the brilliant smile painfully wide. Her music is a functional stew of pop, rock and disco, played by a quintet of musicians who look as tough they’d be equally at home putting a new clutch in your old Marina. Whoever’s been handling the image-overhaul has to finish the job.
She threw in a few ballads to break up the stream of dance-fodder, and delivered a build-up so fulsome for her guest vocalist that one half expected a resurrected Marvin Gaye to appear from the wings. But no, it was only Junior Giscombe in his overcoat, for a quick duet on Another Step.
The best-known stuff was kept, unsubtly, for the end of the show. Kids in America left ’em whooping and stomping and also well aware that she hadn’t played the current hit, Keep Me Hanging On. As night follows day, back came the band, and they played it twice.
Kim Wilde, sex goddess or girl at the bus stop? It’s time somebody decided.