In this harsh landscape of pop, our girls have become mean and tough to survive. The pop world is now a place where giant stars like Gaga beg to be vomited on, Beyonce samples the Challenger tragedy on ‘XO’ whilst newbies like Tove Lo wail about being high all the time. It’s a world where Miley tongues dollar bills with the dead-eyed stare of a seasoned pro and Sky Ferreira’s racoon eyes brim with tears, a bruised and bloodied cipher of gloom. The modern female pop star seems to be made up of the stuff that populates sticky articles on Vice and Terry Richardson’s wet dreams.
Thankfully there is still one star that is a beacon of an era that seems to be dimly fading out. Kylie is the effervescent spirit of pop, she belongs to a time where pop was a celebration, the Friday night hymn, the eternal optimism of another bright weekend morning stretching out in front of you, the chance to dance it out and start all over again. ‘SATURDAY NIGHT IN DUBLIN!’ she booms through the darkness, like a diminutive disco-dictator, she is ready to make the dance floor her victorious battlefield.
Kicking her heels up on a pair of giant lips trilling about the wonders of ‘Le Sex’, it’s evident that the Kiss Me Once tour is not high concept or artily subtle; it’s not a space to air grievances, or prove a contrived point. Leaving behind the elaborate set design and grandiose ‘diva’ elements of the Aphrodite : Les Folies, Kiss Me Once goes back to basics and is almost reminiscent of her old ’80s Enjoy Yourself times, with some towering screens, scaffolding, camp- props and dancers that you could bounce a whole sack of shiny pennies off, it is exactly what you expect from the irrepressible show-pony. The show is a giant smacker of fun that encapsulates that joyous rollercoaster of the best nights out. There is something here for every Kylie fan, a grab-bag of eras meted out with swift professional precision. Beginning with a more modern selection where the Calvin Harris electro-swoon of ‘In My Arms’ is married to the ludicrous techno-banger ‘Timebomb’ there’s barely a chance to peel yourself from the ceiling before Rob Sinclair’s truly stunning needle-point laser work elevates ‘On A Night Like This’ to three minutes of Kubrick-style warp speed space-age bliss.
This chrome, clinical dance section dissolves into a puddle of bubblegum as the Doll House segment transports certain audience members back to a time of Smash Hits stickers, hearts drawn on homework notebooks and favourite posters on the wall. Unlike some other pop icons who seemed weighed down by their back catalogue, Kylie is never one to dismiss her past and instead revels in the never ending affection for her early days. With the stage ablaze with cutesy animated hearts, dressed in raspberry ripple pink she swirls through a medley of those unforgettable hits including the underrated master work ‘Never Too Late’ and the giddy thrill of ‘Hand on Your Heart’. She finishes up winking, unabashed perching in a bath of marabou feathers making pop dreams come true and voices disappear as she belts out ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ in all its original fizzy PWL glory.
Tributes to the past do not end there as the surprise of the night comes with Ms. Minogue at her bravest, standing astride a light box dressed in Sex Kylie style PVC coat and hat which she slowly peels off revealing a black bodysuit whilst delivering a smouldering version of INXS’s ‘I Need You Tonight’. It is a blistering homage to the man who helped her realise the image of the confident, in control pop-mistress before us. It is a Kylie Moment writ large in spotlights and glitter that is somewhat diminished with the embarrassment of ‘Sexercise’ and its cheap gym set-piece following it. It is a brief dip in proceedings before she’s back to her best stalking down the runway beating the baying crowd over the head with sledgehammer hit after hit with the Kraftwerk buzz of ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ still sounding as vital as it did thirteen years ago. The main misstep of the night only really arrives with the odd inclusion of a ballad section where the saccharine ‘Beautiful’ should have been replaced with the far superior ‘Put Yourself in My Place’. Sadly there was also no room for Pharell’s perfectly formed ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’ which left eyebrows raised with its absence noted as a sign of unhappiness at its dismal chart performance.
Chatting to the excitable crowd at the end of the night in her robot Cruella Deville outfit she oozes the easy charm and warm charisma of a true professional, something that the younger, colder generation of pop starlets often lack. As the confetti rained down to the siren finale of ‘All the Lovers’ and an encore of the breathtaking ‘Into The Blue’ it was a night that distilled the very essence of Kylie. No darkness, no pretension, no empty messages, just the pure visceral joy of spending Saturday night dancing to the rhythm of the heart beat of pop.
Kylie photographed for State by Isabel Thomas