Nik Kershaw arrived in 1984 with two platinum albums ‘Human Racing’ and later the same year ‘The Riddle’ and a clutch of hit singles over the next two years including Wouldn’t it Be Good?, I Won’t Let the Sun go Down On Me, The Riddle and Don Quixote hitting the charts as well as an appearance at Live Aid in 1985.
The 1990s saw Kershaw take a back seat writing songs for and with many established artists including Elton John, Tony Banks (Genesis) and Les Rhythm Digitales and also penned the debut hit ‘I Am the One and Only’ for Chesney Hawkes for the movie Buddy’s Song (but more on that song later). In 1998 Kershaw returned to recording his own material for the album ‘The Works’ followed in 1999 by ’15 minutes.’ Over the last few years Kershaw has recorded more albums and continued to tour with some of the ‘Rewind’ style tours and in his own right, including Prince’s Trust appearances. This tour supports his eighth album ‘Ei8ht’ as well as celebrating his debut ‘Human Racing’ by playing the album in its entirety.
The show is spilt into two halves with a selection of tracks from earlier albums and a number from ‘Ei8ht.’ The second half is devoted to ‘Human Racing.’ The Academy is full, with an expectant crowd of mostly fourty-somethings, but with a few younger audience members and parents bringing the kids. On stage with Kershaw tonight are;
Paul Geary – Bass
Andrew Kingslow – Keyboards
Billy Gonzales – Percussion/Drums
Bob Knight – Drums
Adam Evans – Guitar
The set opens to ‘These Tears’ from ‘Ei8ht’ followed by ‘Wide Boy’ (The Riddle) and ‘Somebody Loves You’ from the ’15 Minutes’ album as Kershaw takes the audience on a trip through his back catalogue, from ‘The Riddle’ onwards to the current album. Unlike many other artists of the time, Kershaw’s voice remains almost untouched by the last 28 years and sings powerfully on the bigger numbers and plaintively on the slower more emotive tracks and his guitar playing is superb. The band members are seasoned professionals in their own right with an enviable track record and play.
‘Radio Musicola’ and ‘Cowboys and Indians’ are followed by a track from ‘Ei8ht’, ‘Runaway’ played on acoustic guitar. The audience are enjoying the show, with plenty of dancing and singing along. Whilst Kershaw gets ready to play an audience member shouts, “Come on Nik!” “I’m coming, I’m coming” he responds. ‘When a Heart Beats’ is followed by a shout out to Karen who is celebrating the big “4-O.” ‘Have a Nice Life’ calms the mood somewhat with its bittersweet lyrics of regret but hope for the future.
Kershaw switches back to the electric guitar for ‘Rock of Ages’ and then talks to the audience for a moment “1985…Goodness Me, it’s like an episode of Dr Who!” before launching into ‘Don Quixote.’ Pausing to thank the audience, “You’re lovely”, Kershaw straps on the acoustic guitar for ‘Billy’, the song about the early ’90s ‘New Man.’ The first half closes with ‘You’re the Best’ and big cheers for ‘The Riddle’ to end the set.
The second half kicks off with ‘Cloak and Dagger’ and ‘Shame on You’ and the single ‘Dancing Girls.’ The audience are loving it and singing along. ‘Gone to Pieces’ is followed by ‘Human Racing’ and ‘Bogart’ with the crowd singing ‘Don’t wanna be here no more’ to ‘Wouldn’t it be Good’ whilst Kershaw stands and encourages the audience participation, “If I had a pound for every time I’d sung that one!…”
‘Drum Talk’ sees Kershaw take to the drums for a mass percussive feast cheered on by the crowd. With only one track of the album left to play Kershaw asks the crowd to “Do the math!” before ‘I Won’t Let the Sun go Down on Me’ starts to builds up from quiet guitar (almost virtuoso Dire Straits) into a full-on rocky rendition with big guitar sounds that close the set.
Back on stage for the encore, to huge cheers from the audience ‘Roses’ and current single ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ are played. Kershaw talks with the audience again, ”I’ve run out of hits…bugger! I’d better play someone else’s now.” And ends with Chesney Hawkes’ hit ‘The One and Only’ (which, of course he wrote), Kershaw was clearly delighted with the Birmingham audience. “You’ve been absolutely amazing and God bless you.” The show closed with bows from the band and the audience cheering wildly.
Kershaw is a hugely talented songwriter and performer and he put on a great show, with songs from the past and new material being welcomed. If you’ve not listened to Nik Kershaw for a while, go and enjoy your ‘Human Racing’ run down memory lane, but check out the ‘Ei8ht’ album because it’s well worth a listen.
1. These Tears
2. Wide Boy
3. Somebody Loves You
4. Enjoy the Ride
5. Radio Musicola
6. Cowboys and Indians
8. When a Heart Beats
9. Have a Nice Life
10. Rock of Ages
11. Don Quixote
13. You’re the Best
14. The Riddle
15. Cloak and Dagger
16. Shame on You
17. Dancing Girls
19. Gone to Pieces
20. Human Racing
22. Wouldn’t it be Good
23. Drum Talk
24. I Won’t Let the Sun go Down on Me
26. The Sky’s the Limit
27. The One and Only
Photographs and Review by Ken Harrison