It’s become something of a tradition for there to be an 80’s show to see out my year, last year we covered The Wonder Stuff and Fuzzbox, two artists that are still going strong 30 years later. For 2017 we’re going a little further back to the dawn of the 80’s for a special one off concert at Manchester’s Ritz entitled The Wilde Wild Xmas Show. There are no prizes for guessing that Kim Wilde is headlining, but she is accompanied by another iconic female from that decade in the form of Toyah, also on the bill is Carol Decker of T’Pau, with these three you have a flashback evening that promises to be fun, what’s not so expected is the inclusion of underground thrashers Lawnmowwer Deth, who other than being from the same decade would seem to have little in common with the rest of the line up, unless you scratch the surface.
Back in 1991 Lawnmower Deth covered Kim Wilde‘s classic new wave debut, Kids In America, Kim Wilde has stated publicly that this is her favourite version of the often covered song, and as that list includes the likes of The Bouncing Souls, The Muffs, The Bloodhound Gang, The Donnas and even Foo Fighters it’s up against some stiff competition. Kim Wilde has since appeared with Lawnmower Deth at the Download Festival, and there you have the origin of the most unlikely Christmas team up since The Hives got together with Cyndi Lauper for A Christmas Duel. The unlikely friendship has resulted in 2017’s finest Christmas release, FUKristmas, and their inclusion on this unashamedly retro evening, and the reason why I have found attending tonight so irresistible, that and the first single I ever bought, as opposed to stole off my Brother, was by Kim Wilde.
Coming into Manchester on the last Friday before Christmas, which is known as Mad Friday for a good reason, sees the city full of people celebrating finishing work for Xmas and many of the crowd are already thoroughly refreshed before the show starts and as you’d expect there’s a good number wearing antlers, Christmas Jumpers and other festive attire, as well as one particularly sinister looking Santa, for tonight’s throwback to the eighties, as a result It’s no surprise that the soundtrack from the Girls On Film DJ’s for tonight is firmly embedded in that decade. Amongst the crowd are a smattering of die hard Lawnmower Deth fans who stand out from the eighties crowd but they get into the spirit of things early in the evening and are dancing to whatever is played whilst clutching tightly onto their two pint jugs of beer.
First up is a surprise appearance by the Doctor, from Doctor And The Medics, who is the compère for tonight’s show and he builds the crowd up perfectly for the appearance of Carole Decker, best known as the vocalist for eighties soft rock band T’Pau, a band I’ll admit I’m not overly familiar with compared to tonight’s other two acts, but she delivers a brief crowd pleasing set that includes the hit singles Heart And Soul and China In Your Hand. There’s no break as we’re straight into one of the new wave era’s most recognisable icons, Toyah, who launches straight into an energetic and all too short set of her new wave classics, including Good Morning Universe, It’s A Mystery and I Want To Be Free. The break that follows sees the Doctor distributing chocolates to the front row of the crowd to ensure the festive theme is kept going in the lull before Kim Wilde takes the stage.
Prior to Kim Wilde we get a mix of Christmas classics and new wave and eighties hits from the Girls On Film DJs that keeps a packed Ritz bouncing and drinking before the Doctor returns to introduce Kim Wilde as ‘the queen of Christmas’. Kim Wilde delivers a solo set that spans her lengthy career, and seeing an eighties icon deliver an impressive crowd pleasing set is a pleasure that I never thought I’d get, and I couldn’t be happier that I was here to experience tonight’s show in all its unashamedly retro and festive glory. Cambodia is included in the set, and that was the first record I ever bought I’m hit by a wave of nostalgia, and then we’re straight into the classic new wave hit Water On Glass, that is delivered faster and heavier than I remember on the original single, as you can imagine I’m not complaining.
The set heads off into traditional Christmas territory including Hey Mr Snowman and Let It Snow, that’s gets a hearty singalong from the increasingly festive crowd, before heading back into her extensive back catalogue, including a revved up Chequered Love and You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) in tribute to the late Pete Burns. Kim Wilde returns to the stage with Lawnmower Deth for an encore that’s starts with their Christmas single, F U Kristmas, and Lawnmower Deth bring a touch of chaos to proceedings and not surprisingly a much heavier sound. The Ritz is now awash with balloons and the stage is invaded by a cast of strange characters prior to getting the inevitable punked up Kids In America which sounds like it’s been channelled via the spirits of the Ramones and Motörhead, and to me it’s never sounded better.
A final encore follows featuring Kim Wilde, Toyah, Lawnmower Deth and the Doctor, who together comprise the most unlikely all star band you’re likely to encounter for an inevitablly seasonal encore of festive cheer with the Slade classic Merry Christmas Everybody, which ensures a rousing singalong from everyone packed into the Ritz and this followed by the seasonal favourite of Wizzard‘s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. This festive encore is topped off with Brenda Lee‘s fifties seasonal staple Rocking Around The Christmas Tree, the rock ‘n roll favourite she recorded with the late Mel Smith. That appeared to be the end of the evening but Kim Wilde returns for a final encore of her classic hit Kids In America, this time delivered closer to as it was originally performed marking a perfect end to the evening.
Tonight was a show that caught the Christmas spirit perfectly, the combination of four eighties icons in the shape of Kim Wilde, Toyah, Carol Decker and the Doctor, and the more than welcome addition of self styled metal bozo clowns Lawnmower Deth, and of course the addition of alcohol and the start of the Christmas weekend, that sees the more than welcome prospect of a few days off for the majority of those attending tonight, meant that the crowd were good natured and you got a flashback to the dawn of decade of excess and regrettable fashions, but one that produced some iconic figures and music. Tonight marked the end to what has been a memorable year of live shows and reviews and this was a fine way to see out 2017, and I’m already looking forward to covering more shows and festivals for The Punk Site in 2018.