mon 15/07/2024

Kylie Minogue, O2 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

Kylie Minogue, O2 Arena

Kylie Minogue, O2 Arena

Kylie's back with a singularly frothy and remorselessly upbeat spectacle

Kylie: Spectacular, silly, kinky - and fun

Frothier than a zero-gravity cappuccino, camper than a gay pride march through Brighton, cheesier than all the fromageries in France, and with almost as many beats per minute as a hummingbird’s heart: Kylie is back with a brand new show, and it’s quite something. Others will doubtless have rolled out the statistics – that it cost £530 million to stage, is built and staffed by a crew of 7,000, and requires a fleet of trucks that would stretch from London to Luton to keep it on the road.

Or something. Whatever: it’s big, it’s spectacular, it’s silly, it’s kinky, it’s utterly inconsequential, and actually it’s a lot of fun to watch.

I’m not exactly Kylie’s biggest fan but I’ve been watching her shows for a couple of decades and she and her creative team have consistently pushed the boundaries of the arena pop show. To begin with she was setting some kind of record for the youngest audience members, as parents and tiny tots bopped to her bibbly Stock, Aitken and Waterman hits; then she started to be taken a bit more seriously, lauded for her song-and-dance spectacles with lavish costumes and high production values, joining a market previously dominated by Madonnna and now being given new momentum by Lady Gaga.

I lost count of the number of times Kylie changed costumes

This one, though, is something else: a series of extravagant scenarios enacted by Kylie and her troupe of dancers in which they parade and process and skip and cavort across a vast stage and its V-shaped extension that plunges into the crowd. To begin with they were ancient Greco-Romans, Kylie the slavemistress and charioteer (with glistening human “horses”); then we were in the deserts of Arabia; then, well, we were all over the place, including a trip to another planet, which, judging by the gaudiness of the costumes, was at the heart of the galaxy that taste forgot.

I lost count of the number of times Kylie changed costumes; my favourite, designed, like all of them, by Dolce & Gabbana, featured a swirling skirt that looked as if it was made from emu feathers. Coming a close second was a crinkly dress made from a very upmarket kind of silver foil.

Oh, and there was music, too, provided, somewhat improbably, by a bare-bones band of four anonymous-looking blokes in suits; it sounded fine, suitably thumpy. In fact there was one moment when the music took me by surprise: “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” was transformed into a guitar-driven rock tune, with bondage-themed dancers, and as a result it seemed almost dark.

KylieThis, though, was the closest the show came to delivering an emotion that was anything but dizzily, effervescently upbeat. Kylie (pictured right) may have suffered breast cancer a few years ago, but she is not one to reflect publicly on her difficulties: here, all was relentlessly fun-loving and buoyant - thump thump thump, dance dance dance, lucky lucky lucky.

She is not, it has to be said, the world’s greatest singer, but she showed more vocal control on a couple of slower songs than I had given her credit for. And bravo, too, for the super-fast costume changes – so often, shows such as this lose momentum thanks to the constant pauses, but here it was almost non-stop for two hours.

My favourite bits were the sections when the dancers vacated the stage and it was left to Kylie and her two backing singers: I’m probably going to sound pretentious here, but there was something almost operatic about the serenity, the stateliness (though not the singing, obviously) of the tableau-like “Confide in Me”.

For sheer spectacle, though, the finale – “All the Lovers”, from last year’s Aphrodite album - was extraordinary. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil it for those who have yet to see the show, but suffice to say that there was water involved – lots of it - and that the words “Busby” and “Berkeley” sprang to mind. Really, in four decades of gig-going, I’ve never seen anything like it.

Watch the video for "All the Lovers"

There was a trip to another planet, which, judging by the gaudiness of the costumes, was at the heart of the galaxy that taste forgot

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As you know, I'm a very serious person but I went to a Kylie concert when she had in tow a serious choreographer whom I was interviewing. I was stunned by the sheer performer communication of this girl, despite her terrible costume sense and, as you say, cheeky cheeky cheeky wholesomeness. Performer genius is rarely found. Kylie has it in bucketfuls (even if I don't recall any of her songs). Admiringly.

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