Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kylie Conquers Luna Park - Anti Tour Review

Kylie's Anti-Tour sounds great in theory. Nobody fucks up single releases and album tracklists with more style and grace than the slightly more successful Minogue. Take 2007's criminally underrated X. Brilliant pop anthems like "Rippin' Up The Disco", "Carried Away", "Fall For You", "Cherry Bomb", "Extraordinary Day" and "Flower" were relegated to bonus track status or discarded completely. That's half of the best album never released right there! But how does a live show comprised of B-sides and rarities work in practice? The answer, after seeing Tuesday night's gig at Luna Park's Big Top, is surprising well. While the majority of Kylie's fans now look like extras from The Walking Dead, their enthusiasm and passion can't be faulted. Every forgotten gem was received like a massive number one hit with MAGs crying and shaking like 12 year-old girls at a One Direction concert. What followed was an unforgettable treat for the faithful and a reminder that the 43-year-old pop legend remains one of the most versatile and compelling live performers in the game.

The setlist for Kylie's first Sydney show (an encore followed later at 10:30pm) remained largely the same as the Melbourne leg - albeit with a couple of minor twists thrown in to keep fans guessing. X bonus track "Magnetic Electric" kicked off the evening's entertainment and was greeted with almost deafening applause. After so many years decades of seeing the rich man's Madonna dressed in elaborate costumes, it was strange and refreshing to see her in cut-off jeans and a singlet. She looked ridiculously hot and fired up the crowd with a joyous rendition of 1988's "Made In Heaven" and the aforementioned Bloodshy & Avant produced hit that never happened "Cherry Bomb". The former was worth the price of admission alone. Next up was the "I Believe In You" B-Side "BPM". Unlike Kylie, that track hasn't aged particularly well and could have been swapped for the exquisite "(Everything) I Know". For example.

After prowling around the stage like a young Debbie Harry, the critically acclaimed Street Fighter actress finally got a chance to catch her breath while performing "Mighty Rivers". That Xenomania-penned Aphrodite bonus track was brought to life with a lush arrangement that showed off her powerful live vocals. It was lovely but I would have preferred the vastly superior Japanese bonus track "Heartstrings", which is probably the best thing Xenomania has ever produced. "Over Dreaming (Over You)" and "Always Find The Time" were well-received steps down memory lane but the inclusion of the ultra-obscure Impossible Princess-era leaked track "You're The One" drew a blank from the crowd and really isn't very good. At all. The confusion soon dissipated with the still magnificent "Tightrope", which, after all these years, remains my favourite track on Fever. Almost as thrilling was the gorgeous Steve Anderson-penned ballad "Paper Dolls". I never thought I'd live to hear two thousand people singing "here we are we're like paper dolls and we're side by side"! So amazing.

Dannii's edgiest sibling then introduced X album track "Stars" by confiding that it was inspired by her battle with breast cancer. I never understood why she left it off her X2008 tour, it's such a great little song. By that stage we had reached the half-way mark and there was still no costume change in sight. The pop-star-doing-a-rock-show vibe reminded me a lot of Intimate & Live. Kylie even seemed to focus on songs from around that era. "Drunk" and Say Hey" (after which that shithole forum is named) represented the most experimental phase of her illustrious career. The lighting concept also changed with '90s rave-lasers beaming down on the audience and the pop icon let loose, dancing around the stage and waving at fans. Next up was “Too Much”, which the diva described as a gift from friends Calvin Harris and Jake Shears, and a pair of Light Years albums tracks – “Bittersweet Goodbye” and “Disco Down”. The former snoozefest was politely-received but the latter up-tempo pop explosion had everyone moving their feet.

“"I Don’t Need Anyone”, another gem from 1997’s Impossible Princess, proved that Kylie can still unleash her inner rock chick, while “Got To Be Certain” – a number one hit in Australia in 1988 – proved to be the most popular song of the night. Given the frenzied fan response, it’s hard to fathom why Keith Washington's one time duet partner has all but disowned the Stock Aitken Waterman-produced classic for 24 years. The show unexpectedly closed with “Things Can Only Get Better” – a fairly unmemorable cut Rhythm Of Love. To put it nicely. With a handful of cherished tracks like “Ocean Blue”, "One Boy Girl" and “Love Takes Over Me” still up her Anti-Tour sleeve, the song proved to be one of the evening’s few missteps. Really, who was knocking back a drink before the gig and thought I really hope she does "Things Can Only Get Better"?

After the shortest of breaks, Kylie returned for an encore wearing baby blue hot-pants and a t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a woman’s bare breasts. It was an unusual fashion choice but I'm here for old women in appropriate clothing. The incredibly camp but still rather shit “That’s Why They Write Love Songs” – an unreleased anthem she unveiled on the opening night of her X2008 Tour and then promptly discarded - was unexpected but fans were clearly more interested in the snippets of songs she performed by request. There were a couple of verses of the fabulous unreleased track “Lovin’ You” and a sing-a-long rendition of “Word Is Out”. After almost two hours of non-stop music, Ms Minogue concluded the quirkiest tour of her career a pair of songs from Enjoy Yourself. “Tears On My Pillow” was dedicated to her dad, while the title track brought back a flood of memories for fans who have been there since the ‘80s. Kylie proved that she can still hold an audience in the palm of her pretty hand without any of her hits, trademark costume changes and elaborate staging. How many other pop stars – past or present – can say the same?

A rather different version of this review appears on US website Idolator.


Bruce said...

Totally Jells!

BPM is my fave Kylie song ever!

Great review!

Dannii said...

Amazing review cant stop LOLing!

Me said...

evyl jeloz hayatahaz1111 Things Can Only Get Better is an amazing track - and if anything should be promptly stuck from the setlist it is the ABYSMAL Too Much and BPM in favour of Closer 92 and either Difficult By Design or Gotta Move On. And TWTWLS didn't work on X2008 so why dredge it up again? Doing GTBC and TOMP both massive international #1 hits defeats the point of a tour of obscure and rare tracks. The time to do them (and WKOF which remains unperformed at any live show) was The Folly.

Still can't wait till Dannii lends her the airmiles to get to the UK!

Scott said...

I loved Things Can Only Get Better - I had no idea I knew the words to it until they all came flooding back. If not for the horrible queens screaming in front of me, Bittersweet Goodbye may have been a touching moment. Say Hey and Drunk are still boring, and I too would have skipped You're The One. Making Mighty Rivers a bonus track was giving it too much credit. I didn't mean this to all sound negative - it was far and away her best show in ages. Got To Be Certain may not be rare or a b-side, but she never does it (in Australia anyway - you know, the country where it was the biggest hit), so I was thrilled to hear it. I just hope we get Antitour 2013 and she can play all the tracks she left out. (She knew everyone wanted One Boy Girl, so not doing it and then mentioning she wasn't doing it was just cruel)

Mike said...

I was relatively happy with the tracklist but Ocean Blue would have made it perfect for me. Hope she does it in the UK!

Me said...

The London show was Beyond Fabulous! Especially as we got GMJALMT, INS, OBG and the cherrry bomb on top was instead of the ABYSMAL TWTWLS we got a stunning rendition of the vastly underrated Do It Again

Anonymous said...

I would have been chugging back a drink hoping she would have done Things Can Only Get Better. So, pffft to you Mike. LOL. Great review, I'm kinda teasing you. I would have also liked the PSB penned "Time Will Pass You By" in there and "Your Love" from Fever. "Enjoy Yourself" as the finale song- BEST. CHOICE. EVER!