The opening scene of the concert by the English singer Kim Wilde saturday night at the sold out Oosterpoort in Groningen said it all. With the musicians hiding from view, much less playing their instruments, a pre-programmed tape with music brought the audience towards mass hysteria. Even before one note was played, the game was won. Marketingship, well-balanced imagebuilding and a well planned marketing campaign had been fruitful.
Kim Wilde has really ended up on top by coincidence. In the hierarchy of the Wilde family business, where father Marty and brother Ricky are in command, she was initially a modest backing vocalist. When producer Mickie Most, who has proved in the past that he has a nose for commercial middle of the road repertoire with groups like Mud, Smokie and Suzi Quatro, takes her under his wings the ball gets rolling. The combination who is selling the product Wilde bases itself on a refined combination of quasi modern new wave and the fresh, visually attractive but oh so normal 'girl next door'. This formula proved to be successful. It has to be said, her first four hits seem to be from an acceptable standard. The two albums were less attractive already. Music that wasn't very original, but still enough to give them the benefit of the doubt.
That last bit of credit was lost by Kim Wilde on Saturday night. After a tour that was accepted disastrously in England this first performance in the Netherlands was disappointing. Her music may sound progressive and modern to the average listener thanks to the indoctrination of ignorant Hilversum [radio capital of the Netherlands], in fact it was a concert that was put together out of averageness and banal truisms. A concert where grey professionalism was more important than vitality and spontaneity. The imposed custom was filled with phoney from all sides. From the tonedeaf saxophonist and the fashionable synthesizer parts to the obligatory guitar noise and lengthy, unnecessary drum parts, Kim Wilde showed a distressing lack of personality, insecure and nervous, but amidst this group of showy players she could hardly be blamed. Thanks to the slick presentation and the very cliched dynamics in instrumentation there seemed to be lots going on, but it was all much ado about nothing. Only during the hits 'View from a bridge', 'Child come away' and 'Kids in America' - songs placed in the set to jack up the interest of the audience whenever it was fading - Kim Wilde seemed to be able to get across some of the image that is ascribed to her. The rest was as colourless as her peroxyde hairdo. The whole thing reeks of a form of pop pollution people keep falling for. I would recommend doubters to get a ticket for the concert of Siouxie and the Banshees on December 19 in the Martinihal in Groningen. The difference between fake and real couldn't be shown any better.
[See also the readers' response in The reader speaks, a week later]