It would kind of pointless for me to write an hysterically overwrought review of Kylie's "Showgirl Homecoming" without first placing the event in some kind of context. I feel like I have always known Kylie. With the exception of her fabulous sister, I can't say that about any other celebrity or performer. "Neighbours" was my after school TV show of choice and Charlene was obviously my favourite character. Mostly due to the fact that she wore men's overalls, yet still managed to have an immaculate perm. Charlene was also one tough bitch, arriving in Ramsey Street and breaking into Madge's house! Yes, I remember Kylie's first episode on the show.
Kylie instantly clicked with me, mostly because I felt sorry for her being stuck in Dannii's shadow. Stop laughing, it's true! Back in the day, Dannii was THE preferred Minogue and probably the coolest teenager on the planet. I used to watch in amazement as Dannii rocked "Young Talent Time" week in/week out with her scintillating Madonna covers and gravity defying teased fringe. Everything changed one day in the late 1980s when, to the amazement of just about everyone, Kylie appeared in the top 10 with "The Locomotion". I bought the song with my pocket money the next day and have purchased every release since.
I can't logically explain the overwhelming sense of affection I feel towards Kylie, apart from saying that she was the soundtrack to my childhood and adolescence. I think I can tie in just about any event in my life with a Kylie song or album. I got bashed at a school camp for wearing an "Enjoy Yourself" t-shirt, the first time I went to a concert without adult supervision was Kylie's "Rhythm Of Love" extravaganza at the Entertainment Centre and my first Mardi Gras in the mid 1990s had Kylie as the special guest performer. I guess, Kylie also played a big role in my coming out. In the mid 90s Kylie was considered to be about as cool as Nicki Webster. And like that demonic redhead, Kylie's fans seemed to be exclusively gay or female. Saying you were into Kylie was as good as publically declaring that you were into cock!
Then there are the funny Kylie memories, like attending the lauch party for "Did It Again" on Oxford Street, which sounded impressive but turned out to be four trannies doing the dance routine from the video in the middle Hum Records. Back in the day, Kylie was positively underground! I remember going to line up for tickets to "Intimate & Live", the tour that accompanied "Impossible Princess" in Australia, with my friend Chris. Such was the state of Kylie's career at the time that we didn't bother arriving until an hour before Ticketek opened, assuming we would be the only tragic queens there. To our amazement, we turned into Elizabeth Street and were greeted by a line of fans that stretched down several blocks.
Kylie has not only accompanied me through the years but also across several continents! When I was living in Germany, I was lucky enough to see a Kylie show in Hamburg just as her international career was taking off again. Kylie played her upcoming single "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" to a rather indifferent audience. That version was more guitar based than the synth drenched cut that would become a classic and sounded rather ordinary at the time. In 2000, I visited with a friend who was doing a university exchange in Georgetown and to our surprise, we stumbled into "Kylie night" at a Washington gay bar on my first night in the city.
Enough of my boring life story, the point of this post is the Kylie concert experience and I have, somewhat impressively, managed to completely ignore it. I feel guilty to say that I was underwhelmed by the past couple of tours - but fuck it, I was! I admired the artistry and style of the "Fever" tour, which I saw several times when I returned to Australia. My only gripe was the overwhelming need to be ironic and clever. Some of Kylie's natural charm went AWOL. My favourite moment of 2005 was going to see "Showgirl", again in Hamburg, with my friend Barbara. Despite some great moments, I felt that the show was missing something. Indicative of what was to come, we noticed Kylie crying between songs towards the end of the concert. We all assumed she was simply overcome with emotion. In retrospect, I think Kylie had been feeling like shit for some time and really had to push through those last few European dates. Hence, the workman-like performance.
We all know what came next, with the Australian leg of "Showgirl" being postponed for well over a year. The first few weeks of Kylie's illness were awful and it was strange to feel so concerned about someone you don't even know. I didn't record myself singing "Wind Beneath My Wings" acapella and send it to Kylie (like some mental Delta fans - who I really should name and shame - did for their hideous icon) but she was on my mind. I followed the treatment, diagnosis, poured over the pictures, tuned into her first interview, turned a blind eye to that horrible children's book and recently, as reported, bathed in "Darling". When the tour was announced, it felt like something had come full circle.
Last night's concert had a strange symmetry to it in a number of ways. I went with Chris, my "Intimate & Live" friend, and the concert was staged at the Entertainment Centre, the same place I saw Kylie's "Rhythm Of Love" tour back in the early 1990s. However, times had definitely changed. This time around my friends weren't concerned about buying booze with fake ID but with concealing vials of G and smuggling in their crack pipes (yes, I mix with a classy crowd!). Most of the audience was still out from the night before - and still out of it! With loud snorting sounds coming from every cubicle in the bathroom, sweaty guys clinging to water bottles and dancing manically to ballads, the evening was beginning to feel more like a dance party than a concert.
And then Kylie finally appeared on stage like a beautiful doll in her ridiculous head dress and the outrageous comments that only bitchy queens can muster ("What's this show called again, love?", random voices: "The Oncology Tour, doll", "Kylie's Greatest Tit Show, girl") gave way to excitement, affection and ultimately respect. "Showgirl Homecoming" is an overwhelming visual feast and a vast improvement over the original concert. It's fun, irreverent, artistic, clever and ambitious without ever trying too hard. Kylie doesn't get lost in the sets, costumes or clever references. This show is all about her personality and vision. Kylie has finally let her guard down and gives her fans the "ultimate Kylie" experience.
Here is a slightly edited version of an inebriated review I posted last night at Toy's Haven when I stumbled home (there is an off-topic, it's not all La Toya!):
"Showgirl Homecoming" takes the "Showgirl" experience to a whole new level. The opening act is still slightly dodgy due to that annoyingly stilted version of "Better The Devil You Know" that marred the first concert but the rest of the show is absolute heaven. Here is a very quick recap because I'm drunk, tired and have to be at work in about 4 hours. My highlights:
- Hearing the new song, "White Diamond", which Kylie wrote with the Scissor Sisters. Think "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" meets "Comfortably Numb". The chorus is gorgeous and goes something like "I'm your white diamond and I'll burn for you". Don't quote me on it though, because I'm not exactly sober. Jake could also be heard on the backing tape, so I assume the song has been recorded. It needs to be released ASAP because it smells like a hit.
- The Andy Warhol inspired "factory" sequence was amazing. I don't think many people will get the Warhol reference (favourite crowd comment - "Someone's stolen Delta's wig from the ARIAs!") but it doesn't matter. The 90s rave party setting was a joy. This segment also included, to my complete and utter amazement and delight, clips from "Do You Dare?" and "Keep on Pumpin' It"! The song with the best fan reaction was "Shocked".
- The bizarre Indian puppet dance segment with Kylie dressed as a genie, dancing with men in white robes was stylish, classy and evocative. Kylie included a lot of songs from "Impossible Princess" in this segment, including a brilliant rendition of "Cowboy Style". "Too Far" got the biggest crowd response, which was most pleasing because I thought no one would remember it. Indie Kylie lives on!
- The gay porn segment - ie "Red Blooded Woman" - has been gayed up to an even greater extent (I didn't think it was possible either!). The dancers still have their shower and work out but this time there are massive screens with men in underpants twisting around in boxes and the gayest exercise routines I have ever seen! The semi-naked men doing push-ups on each other seemed to go down well with the kids and straight couples and got all the gay boys hot and bothered. It really was like gay porn to a Kylie soundtrack... now there's an idea!
- The first half of the show ended with a special appearance by Bono, who sang "Kids" with Kylie. The response was so intense, I thought the building would collapse. This was also memorable due to the old queens in front of us saying - "God, Jason Donovan's got fat"! I think the whole Robbie Williams phenomenon has entirely passed them by (half their luck!). Here's a clip of the duet for your viewing pleasure!
- The second half began with her cover of Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". I've always maintained that this song should only ever have been performed by Ms Garland. I found Kylie's rendition painful in the last concert because it was an "I'm so clever with my gay references" moment as opposed to a heartfelt interpretation. This time around I believed every word and the song was incredibly touching.
- A big shock was the Madonna tribute in the segment which appears to be influenced by Kander & Ebb musicals. Kylie sings the rap in "Vogue" and does the dance routine. The tribute was brief but sweet and fits in well with the rest of the concert. The best reaction in this section of the concert was for "Dreams", which sounded positively otherworldly. I loved the prevalence of "Impossible Princess" numbers.
- "Hand On Your Heart" was an upbeat dance number this time around, not that irony laden, dub remix crap that Kylie did in "Showgirl" last time. It was probably my favourite moment UNTIL Kylie sang "Turn It Into Love"! I almost cried. It has to be one of my favourite Kylie songs and it was great to hear it live. I have to pull out "Kylie" and give that song a spin.
- The encore involved an AMAZING rendition of "Light Years", which was a much appreciated addition. The whole "thank you for flying KM air" was gorgeous! "Light Years" appears to have taken the spot of "Your Disco Needs You" which is fine by me. The only other missing songs that I picked out were "Please Stay" and "In Denial". Apart from those mentioned above, other additions include clips from "Finer Feelings" and "I Guess I Like It Like That".
In conclusion, "Showgirl" was much improved and extremely fabulous. I bet the Kylie/Bono duet appears on youtube within seconds because about 10,000 people were recording it on their phones. I'm devastated I left my camera at home but I'll take some shots at the next show. The concert was as close to perfect as I've seen - the only way it could have been improved would be with a La Toya duet or at least a cover of Sexbox. I'm tired and emotional - good night!