Friday, 8 April 2011

Live: Kylie Minogue - London

Aphrodite - Les Folies Tour
The O2 Arena, London UK
Friday 8 April 2011

s no doubt Kylie cares about her audience, her music and her craft but when playing enormodomes facing a daunting 20000:1 ratio, you have to make large sweeping statements, or be lost to the space. From the audacious opening reveal of Kylie rising up through the stage as Sandro Botticellis The Birth Of Venus, its clear this is going to be big on spectacle. And spectacular is the word that rightly sums up Aphrodite - Les Folies, a show which jumbles Roman and Greek elements but not the classicism of history, but that of Hollywood or Vegas, never taking itself too seriously.

Each time I think
this is the campest thing Ive ever seen some even more outrageous tops it. I Believe In You sees Kylie led around in a chariot, her steeds a quartet of half naked male slaves. Later we see Kylie mounted on a giant golden Pegasus, and further along she flies on the back of an angel (although this probably owes more to Barbarella than classicism). There are large projections of male figures cupping themselves, while the revolving motif patterns of animated soldiers during Wow resemble some giant potential daisy chain. Perhaps its an acknowledgment and a thank you from Kylie (and William Baker) to a core section of her adult fan base?

But a live music performance needs to be about more than the visuals; sadly the live sound and some of the arrangements aren
t on a par with the brilliant staging. As the setlist is heavily reliant on new, perhaps not so familiar material, its key that some crowd pleasers are thrown in, yet it felt as if some of these songs were just thrown away. Spinning Around sees the house lights up, but the arrangement is stripped it of its disco sheen and the illumination merely showed thousands standing still, seemingly unmoved. Worse still was Cant Get You Out Of My Head which had an added rock riff that just killed its momentum leaving it stilted and flat. The live sound itself was not great and its low volume allowed the murmur of distracting chitchat to be clearly audible for much of the evening. If there are problems with the live sound, there are none with Kylie’s vocals. Her voice is the clearest part of the sound, and thankfully free of the effects which dragged it down on Showgirl Homecoming.

s never been afraid of her past, or trying new things. A high point is a radically reworked Slow, now a sultry jazz number, which sees her stood on a rising disc surrounded by fan dancers. Aphrodite - Les Folies is more like a piece of theatre than a traditional concert, but that means a delicate balancing act between the intimate and the spectacular. There was a full hour before the audience seemed to get involved with the show, unsure of their role as voyeur or participant, whether to passively watch or actively engage. There is no doubt that this is a stunning show visually but sometimes it seems that the artist is lost to the spectacle. Yet Kylie can hold this crowd alone as she showed in the impromptu section. I was marvelling at the small figure stood in the centre of the large arena, engaging with the audience and taking requests. This is the naked Kylie, performing an a capella rendition of Hand On Your Heart, and here sheer simplicity was its strength.

But the ending is truly spectacular as On a Night Like This features ejaculating fountains, while a final coup de théâtre is delivered with the climatic All The Lovers. which sees the stage rise up in tiers like a wedding cake, leaving a living fountain as dancers above on wires and below in the water all look towards the golden goddess. Overall Les Folies is like a bright glittering object - one that might catch the eyes of a toddler but is lacking an emotional heart to allow it to truly take root as a treasured memory in the adult years to come.

© James McGalliard 2011

The One
I Believe in You
Cupid Boy
Spinning Around
Get Outta My Way
What Do I Have to Do?
Everything Is Beautiful
Confide in Me
Can't Get You Out of My Head
In My Arms
Looking for an Angel
There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)
Love at First Sight
If You Don't Love Me
Better the Devil You Know
Hand on Your Heart
Better Than Today
Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)

On a Night Like This
All the Lovers