Monday, October 12, 2009

Kylie Toronto Star Review: By Ben Rayner

Although I feel that my review was sufficient enough for this blog, I do feel that it's important to include the words of proper reviewer's as well, mainly because I don't really consider myself a writer, I'm just a fan with some time on his hands. Here is the review from the Toronto Star about the Toronto show (obviously).

Canada's a bit more tuned in than the States, but Kylie Minogue's audience in North America still largely seems to consist of gay men and geeky music writers who over the years have consistently found themselves as wooed by the wee Aussie superstar's classy brand of haute couture pop as they have her feminine wiles.

Critics don't tend to buy records and concert tickets, mind you, so Kylie has her boys to thank for the resounding success of her first tour of these shores, a modest, six-city, nine-day jaunt that finally arrived 22 years into Minogue's singing career at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night. The men, in fact, outnumbered the women about two-to-one in a modest, but passionate crowd of maybe 10,000, prompting my friend Daniel – who writes for Fab magazine and is therefore a reliable authority on these matters – to remark: "It's like Pride Week in here. This is gayer than Madonna."

Only halfway into its run, this "test" tour has gone so much better than expected that the 41-year-old Minogue has reportedly already been offered a residency in Las Vegas, which is likely bad news for Celine Dion but very good news indeed for the legions of Kylie faithful on these shores who've been denied easy access to the high-glam stage spectacles she's been taking to the rest of the planet all these years.

Good news for Kylie, too, as her whole mystique makes a lot more sense once you've seen her perform. She exudes such a charming and friendly persona from the stage that she made the act of descending from the ceiling atop a giant, metallic skull whilst wrapped in multicoloured boas and sporting what looked like a model of a solar system on her head seem almost down-to-earth.
That was just for the opener, "Light Years." Once on the ground, she let a co-ed troupe of eight dancers clad in helmets and skin-tight fetish-wear handle most of the footwork while she slunk coquettishly, but gracefully through their taut robo-choreography, singing (mostly singing, anyway; there might have been a few "guide vocals" here and there) the robust dance-pop ditties "Speakerphone" and "Come Into My World" in a variety of stylized poses.

Costume changes courtesy of designers Jean-Paul Gauthier and Alexander McQueen abounded as the two-hour performance wore on, while a production that no doubt cost a minute fraction of the last Madonna tour's budget made the most of a set that relied primarily on a couple of risers and a few modular, moving LED screens drenched in multicolour graphics and video clips depicting Kylie and her dancers in various states of ingenious undress.

The more elaborate set flourishes, meanwhile, were tailored to the fans who Minogue clearly holds dearest to her heart. A replica bathhouse complete with steam jets, bamboo screens and four chiselled hunks of shirtless man-candy working up a lather in checked shower stalls was unveiled for "Red Blooded Woman," while a string-soaked recording of Dorothy's "There's no place like home" speech from The Wizard of Oz and a video reel of Kylie in Judy Garland drag teed up a goopy mid-set ballad sequence. "If you're gonna go gay, go gay," remarked the gentleman behind me.

Minogue then emerged from the shadows clad in a white evening gown to deliver "White Diamond" and "Confide in Me" from the comfort of an oversized chaise longue flanked by life-sized bronze panthers. Somehow she pulled it off without looking totally ridiculous, just ridiculous enough.

All of this, of course, would be empty without the mighty catalogue of hits with which Kylie has been blessed since she outgrew the Stock, Aitken & Waterman-abetted teenage output such as "The Loco-motion" (still her biggest hit in Canada and the States, sadly) and started putting a populist spin on contemporary club music. Her other transatlantic smash, 2001's frosty electro-pop masterpiece "Can't Get You Out of My Head" had the room in a predictable tizzy, but it came early in a tight set list stocked with international hits – "Slow," "2 Hearts," "In My Arms" – that proved equally familiar singalongs in the hands of true Kylie devotees. There was also a lone new number, an impossibly catchy disco detonator called "Better Than Today," that would seem to herald more hits to come. Kylie didn't totally sweep her dubious past under the rug, either, donning a black negligee and yet another pair of thigh-high boots to recast "The Loco-motion" as a feline burlesque romp.

"It was really difficult getting here, but now that I'm here it feels totally perfect," a pleased-looking Minogue said at one point. I doubt anyone here who gets what she's about would be inclined to disagree.

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