Review: Kylie Minogue, Genting Arena, Birmingham live
The antipodean pop icon celebrates her golden jubilee in style… and in cowboy boots! Has Kylie discovered her inner Dolly? Has she gone loco for line dancing?
Kylie has plenty to celebrate. It’s 30 years since she traded Neighbours for TOTP; she’s just turned 50; and new album Golden has given the former soap star her first chart-topper since 2010’s Aphrodite. Yes, she’s lucky (lucky lucky), but she’s also worked damn hard to stay in the saddle.
Her first full UK arena shows since 2014’s Kiss Me Once dates, The Golden Tour’s opening section takes its lead from the aforementioned album’s Nashville vibe. With the Spaghetti Western twang of the new album’s title track drifting out over the throng, the sun rises on giant screens and Kylie appears, in pink outfit and cowboy boots, flanked by dancing cowgirls (more Toy Story’s Jessie than Annie Oakley) and thrusting cowboys (more Tom Of Finland than John Wayne – she knows her audience).
Backed by bearded blokes draped in smart brown suits and brandishing guitars, the Texan bar-band touch reinvigorates Get Outta My Way and Better The Devil You Know, their approach to country very The-Shires-meets-Katy-Perry, rather than Porter and Dolly. A blast of Blue Velvet gives Kylie a chance for the first of several classy, but not too OTT, costume changes before a deeply brooding Confide In Me and a surprisingly understated I Believe In You.
“When I was eight, all I wanted to be was Olivia Newton-John,” she says, highlighting her route into C&W prior to the banjo-plucking A Lifetime To Repair, car-worshipping Shelby ’68 (“for Ron, my dad, a Mustang enthusiast”), and quiet shuffle of Radio On. In the hands of her guitar-slinging backing band, X’s swooping Wow loses its wow-factor, while an extended Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (complete with snatch of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain), is stripped of its pulsating synth rhythm and lacks punch.
A more consistently entertaining second half takes fewer risks, trading horses for horsepower with motorbikes, denim and leather, before a shot of Studio 54-styled glam. A bubbling Slow takes Body Language’s grinder and brilliantly mashes it with The Human League’s Being Boiled; Especially For You has the entire arena singing the Jason role; On A Night Like This drops in the “Toot toot, beep beep” from Donna Summer’s Bad Girls’; and a new arrangement of The Locomotion expertly sidesteps the PWL cheese factor.
Donning a rhinestone cape, and with the band attired in nudie suits, the encore sees a final trip back into Golden territory for a band remix of Fever’s Love At First Sight and clappin’ Dancing (“the song that kickstarted the whole Golden campaign”). A whole night of line dancing, thigh slappin’ CountryKylie might have been a little challenging, but alongside PopKylie and DiscoKylie, she’s a welcome addition to Kylie’s musical wardrobe.
Written by Dave Freak. Performed on 21 September 2018.