Kylie Anti-Tour

Sci-Fi is full of alternative realities, flipped histories and special one-off episodes filled with morphed futures. Indeed the last Star Trek film was an entire exercise by J.J Abrams to plot out a brand new cosmic universe using the well-loved characters we all know but he was no longer constrained by the immense spectre that has been built since the birth of TV show in the 1960s. By constructing a new timeline, it looked, smelt and felt like Star Trek but the creatives were now free explore the maybe's, what-ifs and possibilities. Kylie's Anti-Tour was a unique night where the popstar at the center of her universe took the stage and performed songs alien to her Greatest Hits and best-of packages but, over the years, formed immense meaning to the singer and her loyal audience. This was a night of airing out rarely performed songs and hearing them soar on stage. Just as J.J Abrams rebooted his sci-fi franchise, this was pop at its most experimental.

Given this context, the normal rules to reviewing a pop show do not properly apply. Many will know Kylie's concerts are of visual brilliance, brimming with anthems that still continues to filter and dominate the airwaves. Anti-Tour was not about the hits per se. Those hits we all know and love.  They're waiting in the wings, re-dressed and re-fitted with an entire orchestra. However, it would be a major mistake to think Anti-Tour was a night of no-hits.

For sure, most of the songs had very chart little or no "experience" being b-sides, bonus tracks and in some cases were shelved and archived away. Still, I feel I think reviewers that have totally misunderstood Anti-tour. The show was still very much about showgirl, sparkle and spectacle only the parade of pop we walked down tonight was decked in a different type bunting. The special bunting that only comes out on special occasions. And, especially for nearest and dearest.

What do I mean by this? Well, Kylie actually performed hits. This is something the reviewers totally missed. Kylie performed songs to an audience who don't spend too much time caring whether it was a single or not or had shipped units. If its an album track from 1990, if its fun, if it takes them back to their living room concerts (with their own choreography) and had big sis on the lights with a dimmer switch and torch for follow-spot then its a hit. End of. If its a song that got them through some bad times or formed the theme song to their 17th birthday when friendships were forever formed then its a hit. End of discussion. Each song holds a special place for every member of the audience. It is their greatest hit. Whether it be Enjoy Yourself, Magnetic Electric, Made In Heaven or the unreleased You're The One from 1997. In this sense, Anti-tour was a performance of hits defined by the personal histories of the specific audience themselves and it is because of this Anti-Tour emerged as one big sing-a-long party with friends. With an atmosphere that was deliciously and magnetically electric.

Talking of which, Kylie began the show with Magnetic Electric. A bonus track from the X sessions. The groove of the show was instantly declared. This was not a stripped-back show unplugged and dressed down but throbbing and energetic. This segued directly into the PWL pop anthem that was Made In Heaven, a long lost classic from the 1980s. Recorded probably in-between a mad rush to the Top Of The Pops TV studio and cutting the hole out of Kylie's hat for her first album cover. Made In Heaven returned to the stage like a homecoming queen and welcomed back like it had never left. The following trinity of Parlophone rarities Cherry Bomb, Mighty Rivers and B.P.M pumped hard out of the boombox that was the Hammersmith Apollo with ease and attitude.

 After floating her mighty rivers Kylie stepped right back in time to all time fan-fave Over Dreaming Over You from 1989. Flashbacks and memories embraced the audience like warm white sand in-between the toes. It was as if for this particular night the Apollo was covered with kisses. Every one sung the chorus, the verses and emerged as the perfect backing singer, some even supplying a little harmony or two. As it sprang into Always Find The Time, it also was noticeable was how natural recent b-sides felt next to classic PWL album tracks.

You're The One holds a very special place for some. It was a song that wandered away from the final Impossible Princess tracklist. But it is a beautiful song, resplendent with glorious lyrics and dressed in a shimmering melody that wraps around the heart like the first ray of sunshine. Interestingly the first appearance of a Impossible Princess song on the night was a song written for the aforementioned album but never released or performed until now. You're The One is, for me, one of the most memorable songs of Kylie's discography. Decorated with sparkling harmonies that surround its integral warmth, the audience observe and gently hum back the words of the song. This is somewhat surreal but magical. It is amazing to see and hear a shelved song have such a puissant glow. Tightrope, Paper Dolls and Stars all continue the trend until the arrival of the 1998 Deconstruction heavy-weights Drunk and Say Hey that come armed with lasers. We are immediately transported Cream and Trade@Turnmills clutching a worn copy of MixMag.

Returning to J.J Abrams notion of creating a new movie timeline based on the what-if plinth, the arrival of Too Much pretty much explodes, screams and declares "Hey, I really shoulda been a double-a side single with Can't Beat The Feeling!!". The added exclamation mark is no mistake. When performed live Too Much storms out of the speakerphone brazen, loud and full of attitude. By the final refrain of the chorus, Kylie has put her jet-pack of pop on, made sure everyone else is along for the ride and has lifted the show out from its West London roots and bouncing between euphoria and elation. Seeing it live for the first time, Too Much struts its trance-lite-pop pants around the what-if plinth, teaming up with Can't Beat the Feeling, pouncing on Better Than Today and has the mind racing with an alternative chart timeline. In its live form Too Much suddenly transpires as a bombastic re-imagined Don't Rain On My Parade with all its cheerful trappings.

Which makes the appearance of Bittersweet Goodbye all the more powerful. Notably, the screams for Bittersweet Goodbye are just as loud for the pretty-in-pink-Pwl-pop-packages. One of Kylie's finest ever recordings, the essence of the show is sealed as the audience sing along to the incredibly personal ballad. Vocally perfect, Kylie sings its narrative weaving it around the listener thus emerging as one of the few pop singers who can effortlessly and intricately convey a story with all the emotions and subtle meanings to the audience. From the top of the head only the likes of Dusty Springfield, Helen Merrill, Blossom Dearie and Karen Carpenter also have this unique inner quality to their voice.

Fused with a rift somewhat related to ABBA's Does Your Mother Now, Disco Down storms into the Apollo like a comet fueled by turbo-boosters laced with kerosene, poppers and LSD. On the second chorus it blows its hefty mirrorballs everywhere scattering its delicious disco matter all over us. Its a full-throttle three minute mini-musical of epic proportions. After a gentle jig during the indie-pop Impossible Princess ditty I Don't Need Anyone, Kylie belts out the anthemic and uplifting Things Can Only Get Better. As with the songs performed before it, everyone sings along. To the casual observer Better, One Boy Girl and Enjoy Yourself could easily be Kylie's biggest hits as the reaction is monumental. Book-ending the show Enjoy Yourself captures the entire night.

Ultimately, Anti-tour glows with warmth, memories, friends, concerts of the past whether they be in living rooms, school yards or stadiums. Anti-tour  recognizes and celebrates the songs in-between the singles and importantly the lost album tracks that have become personal anthems. For that singular night the auditorium emerged as a fluffy ball of merriment and prosaically shared recollections. You could almost touch the warmth thereby defining Anti-tour as one massive fuzzy beaming smile. Into this, each performance offered sweet opportunities allowing lost and rare songs take flight in a year celebrating Kylies 25th year of making great pop music. Seeing the b-sides, bonus tracks and rarities ricochet from the stage and around the Apollo they proposed an incredibly fun alternative greatest hits night. As such, Kylie set off cascade wave of tasty possibilities, bewildering timelines, classic memories and glorious discographies. Somewhat like a time bomb.


Kylie Dot Com
Anti Tour Kylie photo by William Baker
Concert Photos taken by Tony Barton

1 comment:

Yaakov said...

You describe well the direction she takes a jump to the future.