Kylie @ The O2 – Monday 4th August 2008

A bit of a back-dated post as I’ve been meaning to write one for ages, but have always found myself short of something (namely some good photos!). Although Carlos, Tom, Greg and I were sat three rows from the front, dead centre (hurrah for work!), I decided that I’d much rather watch the concert and enjoy it than spend the whole show taking pictures! Fortunately, Mister Greg obliged to let me pinch a few of his pictures, and so I’ve uploaded those instead ;o)

I really really want her skull thing!! It would be so great to ride that into work each day! hehe.

It was great to see that this concert was also shown at the launch of the digital channel “4 Music” (a rebranding of ‘The Hits’) – if that transpires to be the DVD footage, then that would be awesome!!

I really loved “Flower” (below) – which she only ever does on tour –  along with other gems such as “Your Disco”, “Like A Drug” and “The One” made this an unforgettable night. Her rocky ending to “Slow” made for the only time that I’ve actually enjoyed this song!

I could rave on for ages, however we’d be here for pages and pages and I’d still only be up to the third song hehe!

Instead, I came across this excellent review on Last.Fm which I thought folk may enjoy reading more than my own ramblings hehe!



I’d heard that Kylie’s team of designers, choreographers and video artists had done well to out Showgirl her last tour and that the widely reported £10 million price tag of the tour suggested we were in for a treat, but it became something else entirely once album track PlaySpeakerphone started buzzing ominously through the speakers as the black curtain wrapped around the stage elegantly fell…

What you had for £10 million was the most intoxicatingly bizarre visual resplendence that amount could buy. Most of it would most certainly have been used to design, orchestrate and finally power the enormous visual panels kitted along the far wall and the stage floor itself, as well as a fair amount used to portray the various patterned sequences and scenarios beamed through in digitally-enhanced Technicolour gloss, most featuring Kylie in all variety of cyber-kitten get-ups from Kabuki to space vixen to Night Porter-style rebel. Another sizable chunk would have been spent on the physical setpieces themselves, among which were a black pyramid that rose from centre stage to reveal the titular star wrapped inside a detailed Japanese headdress before the night’s first truly memorable song performance, PlayCome Into My World, and the enormous golden skull she saucily strapped herself onto and that carried her centre stage about thirty feet in the air for PlayLike A Drug. The costume changes were innumerable, even for the intensely acrobatic dancers; a mixture of different pop culture reference points, the most eyecatching being her tiny sky blue cheerleader outfit for PlayHeart Beat Rock and her first costume which most was most probably inspired by the villainous angelic robots that populated her appearance on BBC’s Doctor Who last Christmas, a long flowing black tunic with gold details and a nuts’n’bolts-style chunky halo.

Being a show fronted by an international icon as opposed to a celebrated musician, the event itself was very well-executed, nary a hitch, slip-up or crazy spontaneous moment to be seen or heard. For a show of such galvanizing virtuosity though, one could be forgiven for wondering if maybe the music itself could have afforded to be a little more adventurous in their arrangements, given that so much money was spent to necessitate one keyboardist, one guitarist, one bassist, one drummer, two back-up vocalists and a brass band trio. One of the night’s standout moments was the band finally rocking out in the fade-out to PlaySlow, no doubt inspired by Tricky‘s own punk-flavored interpretation on his new album. And fan favorites such as Confide in Me and the new album’s best kept secret PlayStars could have been added instead of the am-dram tongue-in-cheekiness of the showgirl interlude featuring a spirited-if-displaced version of Barry Manilow‘s PlayCopacabana (At the Copa). Understandably, it’s all in an effort to tick boxes for each denomination of Kylie’s huge fanbase, which embraces nursery school children as much as it does elderly party-rabblers, and the sheer glossiness of the whole shebang is pretty much critic-proof. Though Kylie’s own personality and influence on the night yielded some curious results, especially with her more recent work…

The first half was definitely slower and a little more robotic than the second and the influence of Kylie’s present-day peers were highly in evidence. The Gwen Stefani influence that seems to have eaten away at so many female soloists recently was in full swing, quite flagrantly so on the cheerleader atmos on the aforementioned Heart Beat Rock. Björk‘s more recent oriental fashions and headgear were referenced for the Kabuki segment on the tour, which still provided some of the night’s better songs. Speakerphone and PlayNu-di-ty were daringly (and racily) performed in spite of their drawing the latest album’s most critical daggers, the latter especially sounding like a Britney Spears knockoff. And even if she managed to pull it off, the video display of Kylie in digitally spiritual rapture that provided a backdrop for her otherwise moving rendition of PlayNo More Rain quite inescapably, maybe even tastelessly, ripped off Madonna‘s finest moments from the Ray of Light era. However, whenever Kylie finally gave in to her back catalogue of camp fun and frolics (which, let’s face it, is the single most defining and lovable attribute about her as a pop singer), it was the stuff of pop heaven, especially those that tested her upper register. The relentless bombast of PlayYour Disco Needs You justifiably drew the loudest reaction of the night from the crowd, alongside Come Into My World and PlayOn a Night Like This. And thankfully, she knows how to pull off a great encore that quite elegantly traversed her latest (PlayThe One and PlayLove at First Sight) and with one last camp gesture embraced the Stock Aitken Waterman days finally with PlayI Should Be So Lucky.

The spit and polish of the whole night was precisely as shiny and calculated as the X album, but to draw a critical line under all of that would be unfair. Though Kylie embraces arty cyber-retro references in all of her songs and videos that allow listeners with a degree of so-called sophistication to enjoy her work, a Kylie album/show is about having a good time first and foremost, and on that level alone the performance last night was a success. It also must be said that her winning vivantism goes a long way in making all of this camp pomposity digestible, if not credible, herself keeping a playful handle on the show with trademark mid-show banter that encourages the audience rather than belittles them. X isn’t the best Kylie album, especially when compared to those indelible dance hits from years ago, but it’s still trussed up in the best possible package a pop star can provide for their fans and Kylie’s European tour ended on a fabulous note last night. If only this whole Gwen Stefani thing would just stop… :^/

About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

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