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Kershaw Comes Up Empty At Palace

April 27, 1985

Despite American teen-agers' proclivity to latch on to anything that comes from the land of the Union Jack, Nik Kershaw is one of those unlucky blokes who sell records like tea bags in Thatcherland but whose cup has come up empty in the States.

His American record company is hoping that Kershaw's first U.S. tour--which included his local debut Thursday at the Palace--will help inspire Yanks to join their foreign counterparts in buying heaping globs of his records. But the marketers probably have a better chance of selling him through album covers and videos--where he seems appropriately somber and enigmatic--than on the basis of his live persona, which is merely bland beyond belief.

The talented multi-instrumentalist is like a Thomas Dolby with pretty-boy looks and a lot less personality. He was frequently overshadowed at the Palace by drummer Mark Price and percussionist Gary Wallis, whose showy stick-twirling was the visual highlight of the show.

Kershaw is a guitar player of economy and taste, but something leads him to clutter his tunes with synthesizers and percussion until nothing stands out. The songs were so overarranged that it would have been easy not to notice that a few of them are quite good.

His current single, "The Riddle," is a catchy techno-shuffle, and his last one, "Wouldn't It Be Good," is an even better bit of bitter wistfulness. The latter song, off his first album, was a big hit in Europe last year but failed to click over here--so the record company put it on the American version of his latest LP as well, again to no avail. Maybe they should put it on his third album too.

--CHRIS WILLMAN

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