KYLIE - Kiss Me Once Tour - London o2 Arena - 30 September 2014
Where are we now? In her late forties, Kylie has been famous for twenty seven years, and yet, still, she gives good face : unlike some of her then contemporaries, who have descended into either pointless commercial ambulance-chasing for hits, disappeared in a fug of drugs, drink, and pointless attempts to recapture deceased glory, Kylie has – apart from one brief interregnum in 1997 for the curious “Impossible Princess” - largely, shamelessly chased the pop dream, and made it real. After this, twenty seven years, fourteen albums, and with “Kiss Me Once” commercially underperforming alongside the bread aisle of the local supermarket, Kylie – never Kylie Minogue, for she has achieved a level of 'Single Word Fame' that only the most recognised ever reach – has maintained a currency and validity that so many once-peers have lost. How? Why?
There is no answer, really : there's nothing that Kylie has that pushes her out from the crowd, no unique selling point as such. She doesn't excel at any one thing, but is overall quite good at everything, with no nostalgia, and yet, from the opening moments, it's clear that the show is both forward thinking and backward looking : Kylie knows where she has come from, and where she is going, and knows that we know everything. You cannot pretend the past didn't happen, for it lead all of us to the here and now. She's unashamed, we were who we were, and making Glam Metal albums you never reissue (Pantera).. or singing your debut single in a bath of sytrofoam whilst the original video plays on a huge screen above you, indicates who is perhaps, the most dignified in aging through the years. The years are all in the hands anyway. Look at someone's hands, and you can guess within a year or two with more accuracy than most military weaponry.
The music changes, but with little in the way of radical reinventions, more that Kylie has changed, evolved, refined the vision over time, taken the songs and recast them, remade them : in effect, every Kylie song is exactly the same (love is awesome + you hurt me baby + I will continue to believe in love + kiss me again!), that somehow always works. There's also the show. And make no mistake, this is a show, from the moment she arrives on a huge illuminated balloon-sofa to the last moments of glitter explosion and disco madness. Sure, it's daft, but what truly brilliant spectacle isn't? It knows what it is, and isn't pretending to be class or style, tonight just is what it is : a supersweet sugary pill of pop goodness.
Her set, as such, owes a huge debt to the Pet Shop Boys, and Daft Punk, and Pink Floyd (spinning clocks, musicians wearing illuminated boxes for heads, lasers, lasers, lasers, and huge illuminated columns in incandescently bright primary shades). It's all about ridiculous staging and dancers, dancers, dancers, and a pop band unashamed to have you swaying in the aisles with a glass of white wine. It's the inside fevered dream of a six year old disco obsessed child. In the midst of this, Kylie seems to wear less and less with each song. And what songs they are!
Around the mid point where there's ten hits of hers in a row without barely a pause for breath London's cavernous o2 – suffering from an appalling blowback in sound tonight – the lure of the pop thrill is immense, and the whole venue, aside from a handful of killjoys, is badly dancing like no one is watching. No one is, of course, watching. There's grandparents next to 6 year olds, and there's the rest of humanity in between. Pop is the great leveller. We are all the same when we listen to this. And her music is a form of permanent youth, where I believing in each other and love at first sight and fever are all wrapped up in the same sparkle of optimism, where everything can be cured by a kiss and dashing of positivity. We're meant to have fun. War is over for a bit. Most of the set is made of stagy, showy, West End style dance routines and innocuous pop, as a band execute faithful versions of pop hits. It's a cyncical hit machine, but... Kylie knows what she does best, and it's not making the big artistic statements, or being the next Kate Bush. (though her difficult album, the heavily-diverse, 1997's “Impossible Princess”, though hints at a far more complex artistic identity than she has shown previously).
It does make me wonder what the point is : next to us, having paid around £57 for a ticket, the lady seems to spend 90% of her time filming the whole show on her cameraphone staying stock still, and then leaving at 10pm when the Robbie Williams song is played without the Wobster. What's the point? What's the fucking point of going to miss out on the whole evening and spend your time being part-time cameraman? Or, for that matter, leave when the show has three quarters of an hour left, and she has been on stage for less time than the average running time of a 1980's Burt Reynolds comedy?
By then, the set takes a mild break of sorts for the fabulous and sincere “Beautiful”, a song for lovers, and before long, we're back in a spinning crescendo of pop, going faster, faster, in a flawless display of pop at its most primal : to refuel the workers and give them hope before work in the morning.
You can argue about the songs that aren't here, but no one will ever be satisfied with the selection of songs. Especially when someone has done 14 albums : but what do you have instead? A night of shameless pop music. Nobody does that better.
In My Arms
Step Back in Time
Your Disco Needs You
On a Night Like This
Hand on Your Heart /
Never Too Late /
Got to Be Certain /
I Should Be So Lucky
Need You Tonight
Can't Get You Out of My Head
Kiss Me Once
Get Outta My Way
Love at First Sight
All the Lovers
Into the Blue