As a chart-topping star of the '80s and a lusted over pin-up, Kim Wilde can be lauded for paying only the slightest lip service to the retro touring circuit. The BRIT-winning singer famed for the pop-rock hits Kids In America and If I Can't Have You turned her back on the music industry when she married Hal Fowler, her co-star in the musical Tommy, in 1996.
"My career wasn't exactly on a high at that time and I was more concerned by wanting to have children," Wilde says. "When I became famous I was just a child myself really and I spent my 20s and 30s growing up in the public eye so I'd had enough - or so I thought."
After becoming a mother of two, Wilde turned her attention to horticulture and became a successful gardening presenter on British television, writing several books and even setting a world record for replanting the world's biggest tree. Yet the performance bug never left her and Wilde was inadvertently pulled back towards a career in music by the `80s revival that steamrolled the early part of the noughties, and continues today.
While she toured frequently on the Here And Now concert series, alongside artists such as Paul Young, The Human League, Howard Jones and Five Star, unlike her contemporaries she looked to new projects and found a willing audiences in mainland Europe, where she became an even bigger star than during her '80s heyday.
Wilde's 2003 comeback single, a duet with German pop star Nena called Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime, was a Top 10 hit in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands and Switzerland, and proved successful enough to earn her a three-album record deal with EMI Germany. A flurry of singles followed and now Wilde finds herself jetting off to a European city from London almost every weekend, where her newer material is applauded as loudly as the hits that made her a star.
"There's no mileage in going back on what you've already covered so you carry the inspiration with you and see it reflected in your new music," Wilde says. "Yes you can hear the old Kim Wilde when you're listening to my newer material, but rather as a good memory as opposed to a tired rehash."
Wilde has just finished recording a Christmas album that she will release later this year and is preparing for her first tour of Australia in a decade, in October with co-headliner Nick Kershaw.
With her two children Harry and Rose now in their teens, she can spend more time touring and says the second half of her career, unidentifiable from the first, is the most fun she's ever had. "This is the most enjoyable time because it's more about getting up on stage and performing whereas the `80s was all about making records," she says. "Despite the image I portrayed I wasn't overly sure of myself back then. You develop more of a confidence as you get older and being on stage is very much about the mental state."
While proud of her new material, she is promising fans a run through of her hits, including her 1986 Australian No.1 You Keep Me Hangin' On. The 52-year-old is also promising never to go under the knife as she prepares to battle the charts with generations of younger stars.
"I promised myself that I wouldn't have any operation unless it was medically necessary and I like to think I'll stick to that," she says. "I see beauty in a naturally aged face and certainly from my experiences touring I've never felt any pressure to be anything but the way I am."
KIM WILDE AND NICK KERSHAW WILL PLAY THE FOLLOWING VENUES:
October 16 - Tivoli, Brisbane
October 17 - Chelsea Heights, Mornington, Victoria
October 18 - The Palace, Melbourne
October 19 - Enmore Theatre, Sydney
October 20 - Astor Theatre, Perth