It was written in the stars. The day is Alien Day, and Kim Wilde is bringing down the curtain on what by all accounts appears to have been a triumphant UK tour. Wreathed in smiles, she addresses the KOKO faithful as though playing live for the first time.
“Remember Adam Ant?” she says. “We all fancied him a bit, didn’t we? I really wanted to be like him and have two drummers,” she says, going misty-eyed, “and now I’ve reached the age of 57 I can do just that!” Wilde has gone full Jane Fonda for the occasion, dressed from head to toe in leather. She is surrounded by a band happy to don the occasional alien mask, part of an approach that affectionately sends up the singer’s alien fixations, without mocking them – for they are entirely genuine and not without foundation, for this passionate singer at least.
There is definitely something in the Hertfordshire water – or garden – that prevents Wilde from ageing in the conventional manner. Her music is keeping her young. Just as importantly, her distinctive voice, clear and ever so slightly nasal, remains fully capable of effortlessly carrying a full band. The only surprise is that she hasn’t been picked up more in the intervening years to guest on a trance track or too.
Tonight is a family affair. Her dad, Marty, is in the crowd, while brother Ricky continues as lead guitarist and the first to be introduced by Kim, who makes a great compere for her musicians. The fans are also included in the party, like a huge group of cousins who haven’t been seen for a while but are always welcome when they come out of the woodwork. Some are in fancy dress, most are ready to dance their socks off.
Given the quality of production in her work, faithfully reproduced here by a surprisingly large band with those two drummers, Wilde’s vocals sit perfectly on top of songs old and new. The new is heavily influenced by the encounter she recalls from her garden in 2009, a UFO sighting – which the fans have taken on board, judging by some of the interplanetary activity on display.
The devoted launch themselves enthusiastically with Kim into material from the new album Here Come The Aliens, which is polished and of good quality, especially Stereo Shot – a touch of electro disco-era Goldfrapp invested – and Rosetta, where Wilde invests extra emotion. Yours ‘Til The End strikes a slightly odd note, with its similar harmonic profile to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. A Bee Gees cover, If I Can’t Have You, is part of a stripped back section where suddenly the band seem more vulnerable, but it is enthusiastically received and makes a nice contrast with the power pop around it.
Inevitably though it is the old songs that linger the longest. A triumphant version of You Came sounds as freshly minted as the day it was released, seguing effortlessly into You Just Keep Me Hangin’ On, the cool Supremes cover. In her silver, quasi-robotic get-up, our vocalist suits the song just fine.
There is time for two encores, Pop Don’t Stop and – of course – Kids In America, the audience bellowing back the refrain to Kim’s obvious pleasure. It is a night where smiling is inevitable, thanks to the goodwill on show. If the aliens were indeed watching, they too would surely have been grinning from ear to ear.