Neil Jones, Scarlett Wilde, Kim Wilde & Ricky Wilde
Kim Wilde is fab. Turning 60 next year and still fab. Having the confidence to do an acoustic tour, just guitars, jingle bells and tambourine shows a willingness to put your abilities to sing and entertain up front. Kim’s voice is still flawless and it shows the strength in her back catalogue that if you strip away the production they still stand up. The Exchange in the Dorset rural town is a great intimate recently-built venue, there’s a real connection between the audience and the stage, and the sound-quality is top notch – everyone can make eye-contact, performer with audience and vice-versa, and Kim made the most of it, interacting from the audience as well as the stage.
So why acoustic? Kim loves Christmas! Her 2013 album Wilde Winter Songbook is a heart-warming family affair from Kim, musical mastermind brother Ricky, niece Scarlet and assorted guests including dad Marty. The 2015 deluxe version included more of the same but with added covers of christmas classics, but the original album were original winter or christmas-themed songs plus a sprinkling of covers, minus big production, and is probably my fave xmas album by a single act. As the material doesn’t fit in with her big pop tours it wasn’t, for example, featured on her Here Comes The Alien big tour on which the same 4 here were doing the big pop catalogue and the good new stuff, which is a shame, so I was very pleased to get the opportunity to hear it live, and amazed to find the band is just as good low-key as in-ya-face.
Frankly, I wish the show had been recorded for TV broadcasting as a Special, Kim’s presentation and communication skills and engaging, sincere personality is ideal and it would have shown the wider public she’s still got it musically. The harmonies were great, Kim’s singing was great, the audience sang along, and Ricky & Neil were great. The Jingle Bells were brought out here and there, largely for a couple of the Xmas covers which included Last Christmas, Let It Snow, her 80’s charity hit cover, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, and more winter-related fab covers of Freiheit’s Keeping The Dream Alive and Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal, heavy on beautiful harmonies both, with great support from Scarlett & dad Ricky.
The original songs from the album were also fab, Hope and New Life especially, while Kim’s own Hey Mister Snowman was charming and fun – my fave track was missed out (Isobel’s Dream requires child vocal input) but no grumbles apart from that! Sprinkled throughout the gig-in-two-halves were the hits, all of which worked, and worked very well when you’re forced to focus on the song itself, some of the song structures were more varied than I’d considered before. Chequered Love done folk-stylee, Never Trust A Stranger, Four Letter Word, You Keep Me Hangin’ On all worked acoustic-ally, and Cambodia always brings a tear to my eye. You Came broke down mid-song when Scarlett pointed to Kim that audience-member Holly, a young girl, was dancing – Kim was both laughing and touched, Ricky was engaged, and she was drawn into the evening too, before they picked up where they had left-off. Finale? Kids In America of course, still her signature song!
Kim’s touring a 60th birthday Greatest Hits tour next year, grab a ticket is my advice! I’m a fan of the Wilde dynasty – I was mad on dad Marty’s songs Abergavenny and Jesamine back in the late 60’s as a kid, I was a fan of pre-teen wannaba-star Ricky in 1972/74 (I bought I Am An Astronaut and Teen Wave, and about time Ricky did Teen Wave just for me while Kim gets a break in her concert to change costume or whatever!), and I bought a lot of Kim’s singles and the vinyl album Close in the 80’s. I’m still buying the downloads and albums and seeing her live. 4 times and counting since I first failed to get tickets, supporting Michael Jackson at Wembley in the late 80’s – though I did sit outside the stadium listening to her, and lo who walked by me? Only blooming pop star Paul Young! No, I’m not a stalker, I’d been into London with friends and we drove to Wembley to park and get the tube in, allowing me the indulgence of a looking like a sad loser sat on a wall outside for a bit. Worth it though. Still is worth it, driving into the rural countryside included 🙂