Gone were the elaborate costumes, army of backing dancers and set list full of hits. Instead, Kylie strutted across the intimate Big Top stage wearing cut-off jeans and tank-top, and proceeded to belt out a collection of long-forgotten album tracks, B-sides and rarities with only her band to keep her company. What followed was an unforgettable treat for hardcore fans and a reminder that the Minogue, 43, remains one of the most versatile and engaging live performers in the music business.
The set list for the Australian pop star’s first Sydney show (an encore followed later that night) remained largely the same as her Melbourne gigs, albeit with a couple of twists thrown in to keep her fans guessing. “Magnetic Electric” opened the second leg of Kylie’s Anti-tour and was greeted with almost deafening applause. You would be forgiven for mistaking the quirky Greg Kurstin-produced song for one of the diva’s biggest hits rather than an iTunes bonus track from her 2007 X album.
That was followed by a selection of the occasionally orchestral diva’s most-loved B-Sides. First up was a joyous rendition of 1988′s “Made In Heaven” (technically a double A-side in some territories), Bloodshy & Avant’s hit-that-never-happened “Cherry Bomb” and “BPM”, which was the flip side of “I Believe In You”.
After prowling around the stage like a young Debbie Harry, Kylie finally got a chance to catch her breath while performing “Mighty Rivers”. That Xenomania-penned Aphrodite bonus track was brought to life with a lush arrangement that showed off the recent ARIA Hall Of Fame honoree’s powerful live vocals. “Over Dreaming (Over You)” and “Always Find The Time” were well-received steps down memory lane for her loyal followers, but the inclusion of ultra-obscure Impossible Princess-era leaked track “You’re The One” drew a more muted response. The confusion soon dissipated with the still magnificent “Tightrope” (a Fever album track in Australia but a B-side in other territories) and gorgeous Steve Anderson-penned ballad “Paper Dolls”. The diminutive diva then introduced X album track “Stars” by confiding that it was inspired by her battle with breast cancer.
Half-way through the concert, and with still no costume change in sight, Kylie embarked on a pair of songs (“Drunk” and “Say Hey”) from the most experimental phase of her illustrious career. The lighting concept changed – ’90s rave lasers beamed down on the audience – and the pop icon let loose, dancing around the stage and waving at fans. She’s clearly enamoured with the Impossible Princess era given the proliferation of tracks from that period. Next up was “Too Much”, which Kylie described as a gift from friends Calvin Harris and Jake Shears, and a pair of Light Years albums tracks – “Bittersweet Goodbye” and “Disco Down”. The former was politely-received but the latter up-tempo pop explosion had everyone moving their feet.
“I Don’t Need Anyone”, again from 1997’s Impossible Princess, proved that Kylie can still unleash her inner rock chick, while “Got To Be Certain” – a number one hit in Australia in 1988 – proved to be the most popular song of the night. Given the adoring fan response, it’s hard to fathom why the “Get Outta My Way” singer all but disowned the Stock Aitken Waterman-produced classic for almost 24 years. The show unexpectedly closed with “Things Can Only Get Better” – a fairly unmemorable cut off Rhythm Of Love. With a handful of cherished tracks like “Ocean Blue” and “Love Takes Over Me” still up her Anti Tour sleeve, the song proved to be one of the evening’s few missteps.
After the shortest of breaks, Kylie returned for an encore wearing baby blue hot-pants and a t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a woman’s bare breasts. It was an unusual fashion choice, but suited the low-key atmosphere.
The incredibly camp “That’s Why They Write Love Songs” — an unreleased anthem the Aussie songstress unveiled on the opening night of her X2008 Tour and then promptly discarded — was a nice touch, but fans were more interested in the snippets of songs she performed by request. There were a couple of verses of unreleased Xenomania-produced track “Lovin’ You” and a sing-a-long rendition of “Word Is Out” – a top 10 hit in her homeland in 1991.
After almost two hours of non-stop music, Kylie concluded the quirkiest tour of her career a pair of songs from her 1989 sophomore album Enjoy Yourself. “Tears On My Pillow” was dedicated to her father, while the title track brought back a flood of memories for fans that had remained faithful since the ’80s. Kylie proved that she can still hold an audience in the palm of her pretty hand without any of her hits, trademark costume changes and elaborate staging.
How many other pop stars, past or present, can say the same?