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Kylie Minogue is nothing, if not reliable. Now on her twelfth studio album and her thirteenth tour, she shows a level of self-awareness that is noticeably lacking in most other pop stars. Rather than attempting to reinvent herself or cause controversy at every turn, Kylie is content to solidify her position as one of pop music’s most consistent personalities by continuing to release glittery pop anthems, give charming interviews, and put together live shows that are in equal measure ridiculous and dazzling. And that’s exactly what she did on September 24 when she brought her Kiss Me Once Tour to Manchester’s Phones4U Arena.
The crowd was evenly divided between the female fans who have grown up with Kylie since her days as Charlene on Neighbours and the many gay fans who have been listening to her music at home and in nightclubs for the last two decades, with the setlist subtly reflecting this mix of fans. Opening on the campy ‘Les Sex’ from Kiss Me Once, the first section of the show features singles from her vastly underappreciated X (‘In My Arms, Wow’) as well as her Greatest Hits single, ‘Timebomb’. None of the opening five songs could be deemed ‘Kylie classics’, but those who were concerned that this tour might ignore her earlier material would soon be reassured in the second act. The run of ‘Spinning Around’, ‘Your Disco Needs You’, ‘On A Night Like This’, and ‘Slow’, complete with strobe lighting, turned the arena into a nightclub for twenty minutes.
Just when you think this show cannot get any more camp, Kylie arrives dressed in a huge tulle pink dress singing ‘Hand On Your Heart’. She slowly disrobes, singing hit singles from her first two albums, until she lies in a bathtub recreating the iconic video for ‘I Should Be So Lucky’. I can’t remember a time I’ve heard an audience react as positively to a show as when Kylie began blowing the bubbles around the stage. From her career bests like ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ to the obscure but sexy cover of INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’ (a moment which held a somber significance due to her relationship with Michael Hutchence), the rest of the show stayed upbeat and joyful. Closing the show with the lead single from Kiss Me Once, ‘Into The Blue’, the song acquired a whole new meaning. Regardless of how much commercial success it brings her, Kylie will continue to give her fans what they want without compromising, and she’ll do it in the most fabulous way possible.
Ultimately, Kiss Me Once is a master class of pop performance. And honestly, aside from Madonna, it seems as though Kylie is the only artist out there now who is capable of comfortably performing a mix of her newer material and the songs from the very beginning of her career with ease, and that effortless performance style was truly contagious for the audience. It felt great to be surrounded by people who were so unashamedly happy to be there. That’s the thing about Kylie and the secret to her success. It’s impossible to imagine anyone disliking her simply because she has spent her entire career being honest with her fans through the good and the bad. She is a living legend and humble in her demeanour. Nice guys may finish last, but Kylie is proof that nice pop stars can keep a career feeling fresh after thirty years.