Date: 20 October 2022
Originally published in: Hamburger Abendblatt (Germany)
Written by: Heinrich Oehmsen
The British singer celebrated 40 career years with her fans at a sold-out concert. Her outfit was a case for the fashion police.
Hamburg. “Let’s celebrate the 80s,” Kim Wilde calls out to her fans on Wednesday evening in the sold-out factory. There was no need for this request, because that’s the reason why the audience – mostly over 50s, more male than female – crowded in front of the stage.
The British pop singer, born in 1960, chose an outfit where the fashion police should actually intervene. She wears a jacket-like top in red and black, studded with rhinestones and with short fringes on the back. A stiff breeze blows in her face, fans make her long blond hair flutter and cool down the narrow stage a little. Her stage costume in 80s style is appropriate for the occasion, because a 40-year career in show business is being celebrated.
Kim Wilde sings in the factory – and everyone sings along
In 1981, Wilde landed her first hit with “Kids In America”, and her debut album was also at the top of the charts. With only three albums, she became a shooting star. Half of Europe danced to songs like “Checkered Love”, “The Second Time” and “Water On Glass”, in which she sings about tinnitus. Also catchy were her more thoughtful songs “View From A Bridge”, which deals with the suicide of a young girl, and “Cambodia”, a love song with a political background.
Of course, she has each of these pieces in her repertoire. Your audience sings along with the refrains, the message may get lost, but that doesn’t matter tonight. It’s about partying and nostalgic memories of a long-ago youth.
Kim Wilde has kept her natural style
With her blonde hair, pouty lips and shyness, Kim Wilde was an idol who was easy to fall in love with. She didn’t have the coolness of Blondie, but seemed like a girl from the neighborhood – not entirely unavailable. This aura was an important part of her early career. In 1983, she even made it onto the cover of Spex, a music magazine that tended to look to subcultural music for its themes rather than mainstream pop.
Kim Wilde’s synth pop was danceable and rousing, the choruses were catchy and sing-along – and they are to this day. She has retained her natural style. She chats charmingly with the fans in the factory about Hamburg, “this great city of rock ‘n’ roll”, praises the beauty of the city and talks about a walk through Planten un Blomen. Not surprising that she spent her afternoon there as after a career hiatus in the mid 90’s she became Britain’s most famous gardener with her own TV show.
Kim Wilde is on stage with her niece and brother
Their factory concert runs at a crazy pace. Punctually at 8 p.m. she comes on stage with her six-piece band and starts with “Rage To Love”. The musicians only have time to breathe deeply when she makes an announcement, otherwise there are no breaks between the 22 songs on the set list.
Kim Wilde became famous with the sound of synthesizers. In the current line-up, however, Wilde relies on guitars and largely dispenses with the typical keyboard sound. This gives the songs a rockier attitude. Also sitting in the back of the stage is a male and female drummer (Jonathan Atkinson and Emily Dolan Davies) who drive the rest of the band rock hard, but who lack a certain nonchalance.
Also on stage are Kim Wilde’s niece Scarlett on backing vocals and her brother Ricky. She thanks him in particular because he is the decisive person for her career: Ricky Wilde wrote many of her hits, produced the albums and supported her on stage.
In addition to the big hits, three numbers from Wilde’s album “Here Come The Aliens” can also be heard, which was released in 2018 and presented at Große Freiheit 36 at the time. And a few songs from the late ’80s and ’90s like “Love Is Holy” and “Four Letter Word,” which she added to the program and doesn’t sing often.
One of her strongest numbers is still the cover of the Motown classic “You Keep Me Hanging On”, which she put at the end of the concert – before the encore part. After “Pop Don’t Stop” and “You Came” there is finally “Kids In America”, their first single. Once again her fans freak out and enthusiastically celebrate Kim Wilde and her band. After 100 minutes of an 80s party, you only see happy faces.