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Thenů and now.
Eighties icon makes tentative comeback
By Jonathan Barnes
East Anglian Daily Times, Thursday, June 16, 2005
Twenty years ago, Nik Kershaw was preparing for the biggest gig of his brilliant pop career - performing in front of 74,000 fans packed into Wembley Stadium and a television audience of millions for Live Aid.
There was no doubt he had earned his place on the stage, with record sales of his album Human Racing topping three million and a string of hit singles to his name, including The Riddle, I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Wouldn't It Be Good?.
Two decades on, after seeing the hits dry up and quitting performing to concentrate on his family, the Ipswich-raised chart star is making something of a comeback.
It may be a little too late to secure a place on the bill for Live 8 - the star-studded sequel to Live Aid.
But in any case Kershaw, now 47, insisted he had no great hopes pinned on the release of his new compilation album, Then and Now.
The CD, which is released on the Universal TV label on Monday, features the singer's best-known songs, including a duet with Sir Elton John, and four new tracks.
"I'm not expecting anything whatsoever. If there's a positive reaction it'll be a nice surprise, and if there's a negative one, I'll ignore it. Everything that happens now is a bonus," said Kershaw, who lives in a village near Stansted Airport.
"It all happened after a phone call about a year ago from Universal. They own the old MCA stuff and somehow got hold of my new stuff. They phoned up and asked if I wanted to do a "best of" and I thought it would be rude to say no."
Kershaw, a former pupil of Northgate Grammar School in Ipswich, quit the stage at the end of the 1980s after clocking up eight million record sales and a string of top 10 hits.
He penned a number of songs for other artists, including Sir Elton, Sir Cliff Richard, Chesney Hawkes and Ronan Keating, before attempting a solo comeback at the end of the 1990s. "I've always written songs. It's like a disease, a song comes into my head and I have to get rid of it," he said.
But after two low-key albums with negligible sales, he quit his solo recording career for a second time - until now.
"It will be great if people want to hear it but, if they don't, there are plenty of other things to get on with. I'm quite happy going with the flow," said the father-of-three.
"I'm doing a few solo acoustic things and radio shows in the next few weeks. There are no plans to do the full band thing - it's really a case of 'let's see how it goes'."
At the end of last year, Kershaw, whose parents still live in Ipswich, joined the likes of Belinda Carlisle, Kim Wilde, Bucks Fizz and Midge Ure on the Here and Now revival tour.
"It was a shameless look over my shoulder, like being in a time warp. My old songs are like elderly relatives - they embarrass the hell out of you but you love them dearly. I don't mind doing most of them live and it's nice to see them get a reaction."
But he has vowed to stop short of a full reprise of his former glories. "I draw the line at wearing my 80s gear again - there comes a time in any bloke's life where that sort of behaviour shouldn't be allowed.
"I did get drunk the other night and entertain my guests by wearing some of my old suits - but it won't be happening in public."
Kershaw has mixed memories of Live Aid, on a sunny day on July 13, 1985, and at a time when he was one of the top-selling pop stars in the UK.
"The way it worked with Bob (Geldof) was he would ask whoever he could get his hands on," he said. I happened to be at Heathrow Airport at the same time he was. He told me he was doing this gig at Wembley - and you don't say 'no' to Bob."
He added: "It seems very bizarre when I look back - almost if that was somebody else.
"Blind terror is one of my memories. The gig was a bit of a blur. I had 20 minutes on stage and I don't remember much about it.
"They had this revolving stage, with performances happening on one and equpment being set up on another.
"You didn't see your equipment until you were on stage, and it was terrifying, as I didn't know what was going to work.
"I was lucky that half of my gear did work, but then I forgot the words to Wouldn't It Be Good?.
"You are either great at playing crowds like that, or like a lot of artists, including me, you are pretty much out of your depth.
"It was a great, surreal day but, if you watch the Live Aid DVD, there were some pretty dodgy performances. Still, it was more about the cause than the music.