The first night of Kim Wilde's first UK tour since 1986 is only half as full as The Boomtown Rats' comeback show at the same venue a month earlier but, to be fair, the weather outside is ATROCIOUS. Pity those who didn't brave the conditions, though, for tonight is a Christmas party to end all Christmas parties.
Nik Kershaw does a fine job of warming up those winter chillblains with a short set comprising all his best moments, including The Riddle, Wouldn't It Be Good and even The One And Only, the No. 1 he penned for Chesney Hawkes. The pint-sized pop star may look more bank clerk than pin-up these days, but those tracks still sound as fresh as ever - and boy, can he play the old six-string.
Twenty-seven years away from solo touring have done nothing to damage Kim Wilde's confidence and, as she bounds on stage to the thunderous opening bars of Never Trust A Stranger, she's positively bubbling. Dressed all in black, she belts out the hits - View From A Bridge, Chequered Love, Love In The Natural Way, Cambodia - flanked by a brilliant band that includes brother Ricky and her talented niece, Scarlett. The camaraderie between the three is obvious, and never more so than during the unplugged moments: Four Letter Word is as delicate as ever, while Fleet Foxes' White Winter Hymnal is elegiac and note-perfect.
The other new songs - especially the jaunty Hey Mister Snowman and the hummable New Life - hold their own, but the festive favourites are what we've all been waiting for, and Kim duly delivers as a shower of fake snow descends from the rafters: Merry Xmas Everybody and I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day provoke the biggest drunken singalong since last year's midnight mass, before little saint Nik returns for Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. Any energy we have left is gone by the aural battering ram that is encore Kids In America, then it's lights up and time to face the weather again - only this time, we're too revved up to care. Don't keep us hangin' on next time, Kim. I'll be damned if that wasn't the gig of the year.