It is strangely fitting and rather comforting that on the day when diva extraordinaire Liz Taylor exits stage left, leaving the last vestiges of old school mystique, charisma and dubious hair-dos behind her, that we gather to watch the Trojan show pony that is Kylie Minogue attempting to unite Dublin in a festival of ludicrous campery and divine glamour escapism. Springing from her own Mount Olympus, in a ‘Birth of Venus’ glittery clam shell, waving to the crowd like the queen we never had, it is clear that tonight will be an understated affair… if your name is Louis Spence. After dispensing with the bland pleasantries it’s straight down to business for the lady and what business it is – the business of watching assorted gym Nazis in microscopic gold hot pants (ah, revenge is sweet!) play leap frog whilst the rest dangle provocatively from the ceiling by billowing sheets. Oh and music, there was music too.
Making the decision to ditch the greatest hits megamix style of the Showgirl tour and focus on her more recent output is a brave and telling move for Ms. Minogue. Bolstered by the unanimous fan and critical approval of the pure pop selection box that is Aphrodite, the show leans heavily on these instant gems with the stronger tracks from X managing to peep into the set, possibly to remind folks that it wasn’t all that bad and recall the strange summer when everyone liked Calvin Harris. Hence the almost demonic, demented love-chant hypno fest ‘The One’ is unfortunately crossed off the list prematurely, just as the crowd were adjusting their eyes from the near naked insanity. Blink and you missed its brilliance.
The visual onslaught continuing, we’re treated to a costume change and the introduction of the giant gold Pegasus, only for it to disappear and be replaced for a chariot that circles the revolving stage, as she trills like a siren on the proper quivering space bop of ‘I Believe in You’ . As the night wears on and the sets become more decedent and more elaborate one worries if Kylie’s long-time collaborator William Baker is suffering from some kind of stage prop A.D.D. (“MORE CRAZY MODES OF TRANSPORT! MORE WINGS!”). It gives the night a hysterical, Golden Age of Hollywood-meets-Barbarella via a night-at-a-Brixton-gay-bar atmosphere, especially at the apex of this hallucinogenic extravaganza which finds Kylie sitting on the back of her flying angel dancer as he travels over the heads of the screaming crowd and beats the frankly not very sexy hydraulic moon of Showgirl any day. Over to you Take That and your giant elephant (not you Robbie…).
With all these distracting bells, whistles, horses and angels, the music can be the very thing that is lost in the carnival, which maybe explains why no one seems to notice or care that the celestial, gold-stamped classic ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ is distorted beyond recognition into a tacky ill advised ‘rawk’ number. To mess with this genius and resort to something so clichéd shows an unusual lack of cutting edge nous in the Kylie camp and no amount of fancy Dolce & Gabbana smashed mirror ball dresses can make up for this sacrilege.
Luckily, no one was silly enough to change one of the only SAW-era songs that survives the night. ‘Better the Devil You Know’ is an untouched anthem that could power the 02 with the cheers that greet its crackling intro. The tale of a heart being stomped on repeatedly and begging for more is Kylie’s calling card, her rallying cry that shows the realism that ‘I Will Survive’ never could – love is a weakness, love is vulnerability and as we all peal these oaths into the darkness throwing our hands in the air, Princess Kylie, cheeky grin intact, plays the bongos on her dancer’s bum. With the stylish ponchos handed out to the close few, the most talked about finale is upon us, as the triumphant building crescendo of ‘All the Lovers’ swirls around us like the bliss of a summery kiss, the stage side fountains erupt as Kylie is hoisted onto a tiered tower like a Vegas wedding cake, bowing to the utterly drenched but utterly thankful crowd. Thankful for the spectacle, the release, the fun and hopefully for the perennial, galvanizing pop brilliance.