Its been roughly ten years since Kylie sung Free for a very special and intimate audience somewhere deep in the depths of West London. I was just 15 and loved every single moment of it. Kylie has come quite a distance since the now legendary encore of Better The Devil You Know with those two dancers David Scorchford and Ashley Wallen. On Wednesday I went to see the showgirl return to the stage after her Homecoming tour and was gobsmacked to find that the The KylieX2008 tour is a return to the electric energy that was simply all over the place while Kylie strutted through Should I Stay Or Should I Go and Did It Again all those years ago. This show was no greatest hits package and not at all retrospective. Here I saw Kylie dabble, cut and quarter her most memorable songs with others that were fan favourites or unreleased tracks.
Unlike other tour programes, KylieX2008 comes with no introduction, guidance or preface from William Baker and Kylie. This time its up to the listener and observer to construct the story of the concert. For me, this is most dangerous and thus thrilling. The entire thing began with Speakerphone with Kylie borrowing from Ridley Scots Alien and HR Giger’s amazing sci-fi invention. Gone is the cyborg queen of the Fever tour and only to be replaced by something more bombastic, horrific, alien and yet organic. Kylie morphed into an electro princess from her very hands and entered into sea of neon nights, symbols and signs. Munich was pulled into another dimension and it screamed with anticipation. It loved every second of Speakerphone. When Kylie finally arrived she was connected to the multitude of speakers making her music like a drug forcing itself through the veins of those in-front of her. Right after Speakerphone she launched into BoomBox/Can’t Get You Out Of Out My Head. One of the biggest hits placed so early on in the set and next to a previously unreleased song? Surely unwise. But it worked. The entire show worked. The pace was timed brilliantly. Here was Kylie making bold moves with the designs, the rare songs included and the hits omitted. It’s a risky show and for this reason alone its Kylie’s finest.
At the Munich show, the audience were extremely dreamy and even sung happy birthday. Perhaps the currently heatwave currently affecting the southern city had something to do with it. Indeed just up the road other cities reported floods & hailstones the size of golfballs. Not in Munich though; they came to be paralysed by something new and exciting. With the provocative non-appearance of those timely Kylie songs Better The Devil You Know and Confide In Me, the fan inside of me knew this show was going to be unique. Anyway, after the big hit she launched into Ruffle My Feathers and In Your Eyes. Both songs delivered with exuberance and lapped up by the crowd. Seeing as the former had never been heard before this was pretty impressive.
Then came Heart Beat Rock & Wow. Kylie was a cheerleader queen adorned with footballers and other cheerleaders. The audience went absolutely crazy and chanted “Go Kylie” and “Go Minie” like she was swimming for gold at the Beijing Olympics. The stage was emblazoned with blue and white colours, a full jazz band and Kylie doing the splits mid-air. As a consequence the audience lost control.
The next stage was most interesting. It begun with sailors which pleased many in the audience but while the strings of something grand (think something like a James Bond song) eased into the start of Loveboat the screen projectors revealed a number of sailors all glistening in Pierre et Gilles wonderment and Kylie dressed as John Hurt playing Quentin Crisp from the Naked Civil Servant. Talk about reconstructing the deconstructed! Talk about bending the gender-bendering! Now the show was completely on a roll; surpassing all expectations and revelations. Some might say this section was merely return to the kitch form we saw when Kylie performed Loveboat and Koocachoo during the On A Night Like This Tour but I’d argue otherwise. Here we had Kylie performing Copacabana and Spinning Around as if it was a reference to the legendary James Bidgood and his iconic Pink Narcissus & the gloriously hyperbolic story of pink meets purple, sexuality meets sex, and the showgirl battles on.
Talking of which, there was a growing sense of fighting, and consequently facing such demons head-on, throughout Kylie’s performances, choreography and symbology. You had the lyrics of Spinning Around and Ruffle My Feathers but also when Kylie performed on a glistening skull. Such things are in at the moment what with the successful Indiana Jones flick & Damien Hursts rather expensive diamond skull selling for a cool $100 million earlier this year. Kylie entered the stage-with her said skull-while singing Like A Drug. Herein, Kylie decked out in red took command with Slow and a brilliant version of 2 Hearts. Every song absolutely wrapped around the audience.
Kylie took us to Tokyo next but not in the Gwen Stefani way but rather more Geisha girl becomes Manga SuperPrincessPeach. The screens projected Sometime Samurai & the light S&M tone returned with Sensitized, Come Into My World and a brilliant performance of Nu-di-ty. Kylie let rip with the latter song & allowed those nay-sayers who might have hated it at first find some love for the track.
After all the thrusting came the breather of a ballad version of I Believe In You & a new song Flower. My friend ended up crying. I suppose there are two kinds of losing control. I hugged him. Those in the standing sections were totally now in the hands of Kylie. With every reflection and refraction of her voice she took us on a journey and we were enchanted. While my friend was crying away, I had a case of the goosebumps (Gänsehaut in German). Both tracks must be released in someway. A re-release of X? A download on itunes perhaps. The arrangements of the entire show are mind-blowing and for this reason, the entire concert must be mastered and put to Cd. Vocally flawless, the band and composers of the show have produced a live experience that was a complete and total aural feast. Steve Anderson and Sarah deCourcy can be truly proud of themselves.
The next section took us to the Royal imperial courts of St.Petersberg during the reign of Queen Catherine the Great who’d talk empires with her rival Marie Theresa of Austria. The stage was drenched with glistening silver and the dancers regally adorned themselves with princely couture as they bowed down to the Tzarina Kylie. Munich, a city once at the heart of Holy Roman Empire, went wild for this version of On A Night Like This. Then came a very special version of Your Disco Needs You. All over the city, the newspapers had been abuzz about this song so when she sung parts of it in German the already energized crowd screamed like banchees that had just discovered they’d won the national lottery. Kylie kept pumping it up with Kids, an amazing version of Step Back In Time and In My Arms. Here the section reflected the brilliant balance of the entire show; something new, a fan favourite, a hit or two, and golden oldie. Neatly organized, Kylie’s tour is a pop journey into the abyss. It all seemed extremely happy and Munich reverberated that feeling right back to the singer. This wasn’t quite the showgirl we’d seen but a pop princess ready to test the borders of her music and jump into tomorrow even if today isn’t quite complete. Now, I understand that some fans might not be ready to take such a blind leap of faith but the audience of Munich were well up for it. They could have danced for another few hours. Indeed, afterwards while waiting for the train to take us all back into the city, whords of people started singing Hand On Your Heart, The One and Speakerphone. Yes, although not quite in harmony together we sung in time and with huge smiles round our faces.
Returning to the show though, the encore consisted of No More Rain which is pretty much reads like a musical constitution of how Kylie feels about the last three years. With the arrival of Love At First Sight, the audience were all bumping bums and making “best friends forever” under the disco lights. While jumping up and down Kylie utterly rocked out giving a show to end all shows. If memory serves me well after performing the song the screams of joy were so loud Kylie nestled down and lied down perhaps either in exhaustion or simply wanted to absorb the “highness” of the night (or a bit of both). She ended the show with I Should Be So Lucky which sent the Olympiahalle into the stratosphere.
So! KylieX2008. If your willing to let Kylie take you on a ride where the focus is on the pop of tomorrow then you’ll have the time of your life. I understand that the setlist has been chopped and songs taken out; namely that of The One. I’d always envisioned she’d actually start the show with The One on its lyrics alone. Saying that though, overall I love the direction where Kylie is heading towards if KylieX2008 mirrors the general path she’s strutting down. Everything it seems was finally tuned with hits, new material and unreleased stuff we've never heard before. The bold masculine American sport culture (American Football) was wonderfully juxtaposed and infused with homosexual British/French literature and art (The Naked Civil Servant/Pierre et Gilles). As such, there the concert evolved into a performative dialectic right before our very eyes. Kylie recalled the Tsars of Russia, the work of HR Giger and faced the world on a glistening skull. Now some might prefer Kylie to be on a anchor or moon but personally I love this new and dangerous Kylie. Its more spikey. KylieSpikey, yeah I like that. You never know whats gonna happen next….