An incredible night of pop from an icon at the peak of her power. As Kylie herself sang, WOW WOW WOW WOW!
It’s 17 long years since I was last at a Kylie gig. The first time I witnessed her live was at the Manic Street Preachers gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire in December 1996, where she came on to rock an amazing duet of “Little Baby Nothing” with them. Then there was the Empire again, this time for Kylie’s Intimate and Live gig in 1998, followed by the Hammersmith Apollo in 2001, just before she rocketed to incredible success with “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”. But when the Fever tour happened the following year, I was undergoing some highly fatiguing medical treatment, and just not in the mood for hotfooting it to an arena in the name of pop. And by the time Kylie toured again, I was in my foolish 30s, and gigs were no longer a priority.
So given that I’d missed out on at least seven tours over the course of this time, I decided it was only right to splash out on the most expensive single gig ticket I’ve ever bought: Gold Circle for Golden. So it transpired that I found myself at the barrier in front of the stage at the O2 on Tuesday night. And a lucky spot this was too – lucky lucky lucky, in fact – for I found myself next to an amazing couple who, upon finding out I’d spent the same amount for my Gold Circle ticket as they had for their VIP ones, gave me their extra merch goody bag. A wonderful act of kindness which made this incredible night even more special.
And I’ve never seen Kylie on quite such stunning form as she is on this tour. Everything about her seems to have crystallised into perfection. She’s always been underrated as a singer – what she lacked in terms of full, rich tone was always made up for with masterful technique and style in her vocal delivery. But now, her voice has matured into magnificence, with some truly show-stopping moments of vocal prowess on display tonight. Coupled with a seemingly boundless energy and an effortless sense of joy and exuberance, she was truly a wonderful sight to behold.
Raised up onto the stage at the end of a g-shaped glittery catwalk, Kylie began with “Golden”, an understated anthem to living life as fully as possible, no matter which decade you find yourself in. That is a message which shone through over the course of the whole show, exemplified perfectly by this former teenage pop ingenue now exhibiting the form of her life at an age when many women are written off.
From my vantage point, I had to either crane my neck round to watch the sections of the show she spent on the catwalk, or just make do with watching it on the on-stage screens. But this was made up for 100 times by being a mere metre or two away from her as she concluded an effervescent “Better The Devil You Know”, for example, or for the first verse of the swayalong “Especially For You” (sadly Jason-free on this occasion).
Following the country-pop theme of her latest album, there was much denim and line-dancing on display, with a vague storyline centring on Kylie trekking through some Wild West landscapes as she makes her way to the best disco in the world. But despite the presence of cowboy boots and plaid, there was still glitter and sparkle a-plenty, including quite frankly the most dazzling gold dress I’ve ever seen, and at least five explosions of the glitter cannon.
The setlist focussed on songs from “Golden” along with a selection of her classics, many re-jigged to fit more with the countryesque vibe of the new tunes. The icy electro of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” was transformed with warm, melancholy guitar chords and was utterly beautiful. Similarly “Wouldn’t Change A Thing” had its chirpy pop setting replaced by a lush backing of yearning guitar notes and plaintive harmonies.
Electronica was not completely abandoned, however, as a stunning reworking of “Slow” incorporated the menace of “Being Boiled” by the Human League, with a leather-clad Kylie delivering a cool, sultry vocal. Best of all was the “Golden” bonus track “Lost Without You”, an 80s style pop classic of melancholic euphoria, with the arena bathed in a rainbow of lasers as Kylie delivered its emotional spoken interlude.
And of course the whole night was brought to an end with a jubilant rendition of “Dancing”, a new Kylie classic if ever there was one, and no other song quite so aptly epitomizes the glorious mix of nostalgia and of celebration of life in the moment that this show is brimming with. This night left me with a heart full of laughter, glitter and song, and the absolute certainty that this truly is a golden time to be a Kylie fan.