Reviews: Books & DVDs – 24 January
Another week, another collection of in-depth reviews. This week we’re looking at two brilliant live DVDs and a book of Bowie’s favourites…
Rounding off a year in which the entire country had the chance to indulge in the sheer joy that is the Kylie live experience thanks to her record-breaking set at Glastonbury, Minogue’s 2018 arena tour in support of the Golden album finally gets a release on DVD.
Toned down in comparison to former lavish spectacles, both in terms of staging and costumes, the Golden Tour provided Kylie with a freedom onstage that was previously restricted by giant feather head-dresses or intricate designer corsetry. Instead, it allows her to take the laid-back intimacy of her 2012 Anti Tour – a series of low-key shows in which she performed B-sides and album tracks for diehard fans – and translate it into an arena setting.
Kylie’s main draw is her knack for giving fans exactly what they want; striking a perfect balance between new material and old, often refreshing the latter (in this case most successfully by fusing the hypnotic Slow with The Human League’s Being Boiled) or dropping the odd snippet of a fan favourite into the set (I’ll Still Be Loving You is a never-performed track from her debut LP).
Divided into set-pieces of a Wild West saloon, a biker bar, Studio 54 and a hoedown, Golden: Live In Concert illustrates how, regardless of the size of the production or her audience, the real star of the show is always Kylie herself.
Take That – Odyssey: Greatest Hits Live
Originally broadcast live into cinemas this summer, this film of Take That’s concluding show of their Odyssey: Greatest Hits Tour – a slightly premature celebration of their 30th anniversary – at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium receives a release on DVD/Blu-ray in time for the actual celebratory date of the group’s inception; their first meeting took place at the end of 1989.
Having set a precedent with their previous live extravaganzas, which saw them transported through stadiums on a 50ft robot or aboard a giant mechanical elephant, the prospect of spectacle at a Take That show is now a prerequisite. Though the Odyssey Tour is packed with grandiose effects the emphasis here is on the music. As with the Odyssey greatest hits set, the tour adopts a similar approach, telling the Take That story through music and vintage footage beamed onto the giant video wall. It’s a trip down memory lane not only for the group but for the army of Thatters who’ve seen the group that soundtracked their teens now providing the musical backdrop to their adulthood.
While the extravagant show and hit-packed setlist remain firmly intact, some of the performances of older material without Jason Orange or Robbie Williams reveal how diminished Take That’s impact is as a trio and how good it could have been had they joined the celebration.
John O’ Connell – Bowie’s Books: The Hundred Literary Heroes Who Changed His Life
Following his death, it was revealed that David Bowie spent the majority of his last years either in bookshops or in the vast library he’d built at his New York home lost in literature. A voracious reader throughout his life, Bowie’s love of books provided him with both enjoyment and inspiration, to the extent that he even provided book reviews for US chain Barnes & Noble.
When the V&A museum held the David Bowie Is exhibition in 2013, Bowie provided a rundown of his “most important and influential” literary works. In Bowie’s Books, John O’Connell has taken that list and written a short essay on each entry, examining how it relates to Bowie’s life and/or career and, in each case, selects a track linked to the character, theme or setting of the books.
As eclectic and diverse as the man himself, the selection in Bowie’s Books includes everything from Beat-era fiction depicting the seedier side of life courtesy of Jack Kerouac and Hubert Selby Jr to Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange and Orwell’s 1984, to artist biographies and social studies to The Beano and Viz.
With so much written about Bowie both during his lifetime and even more so after his death, John O’Connell’s book is a witty, informative, fresh perspective on the much-missed star.