Kylie Minogue’s ‘Kiss Me Once Tour’, A Glittering And Nostalgic Celebration: Concert Review

Bradley Stern | September 30, 2014 6:08 am

Catching Kylie Minogue live in London? I should be so lucky — and in fact, I was!

Last night, the iconic pop diva discoed down to London Town for the first of three headlining nights at the O2 Arena on her Kiss Me Once Tour, which kicked off last week in Liverpool.

As opposed to the grand Grecian architecture of the Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour or the futuristic flashing screens of KylieX2008, the Kiss Me Once Tour is a vastly stripped-down affair in comparison: The stage consists of a single series of structural beams and, apart from the use of a few key props — a light-up pair of lips, a bathtub (more on that later), and of course, some sexercize balls — stays stationary the entire time.

Then again, Kiss Me Once was also a markedly quieter era for Kylie, who spent a majority of the time acting as a judge on The Voice UK as opposed to engaging in heavy promotional duties for her latest LP. But while this particular tour might be less of a visual extravaganza (no water fountains this time around, sadly!), the production stayed true to the very essence of Kylie: Campy smash hits, coquettish cooing and loads of confetti and glitter.

As the lights dimmed at the start of the evening, the gorgeous pop goddess appeared in a haze onscreen, stepping forward slowly and supplying a big fat smooch, effectively recreating her Kiss Me Once album artwork. Dancers filled the stage, synths blared, and suddenly, we were off with a bang: The diva arose in the center of the stage, lounging seductively on a lit-up lip-shaped couch while belting her saucy Kiss Me Once sex anthem (well, one of them), “Les Sex.”

From there, the pint-sized princess stormed straight through into a series of modern hits, including X‘s “In My Arms” and “Wow” and Kiss Me Once‘s “Sexy Love,” as well as her punchy 2012 one-off, “Timebomb.”

But whether it was too early in the night to get hyped or simply a Monday, the crowd didn’t fully warm until just after the first section. As her dancers transformed into geometric oddities (similar to the looks found on the Pet Shop Boys‘ past tours), the siren returned to unleash a one-two throwback punch with “Step Back In Time” (complete with a cute little dance breakdown!) and “Spinning Around,” at which point the entirety of the stadium leapt to their feet.

And then, she really took it there: “Your Disco Needs You,” the world’s greatest, gayest call to arms for the discotheque, and a crowd pleaser like no other. The dancers fabulously marched and strutted around the catwalk, as Kylie unleashed those brilliant operatic high notes at the very end, pitch perfect as ever. Ah-ahhhh!

The night’s most unexpected moment, though, came midway through the night, as the familiar sound of “Enjoy Yourself” twinkled through a pink cartoon character-filled interlude. Could it be? The crowd reacted, looking around with a mixture of confusion and disbelief — yes, a Stock Aitken Waterman Power Hour! Err, 15 minute stretch — but still!

Supplying loads of cheeky winks and smirks to the crowd, Kylie strutted out onstage in a fluffy pink number to the bubbly sounds of her earliest career highlights, including “Hand On Your Heart,” “Never Too Late” and “Got To Be Certain.” And then, after darting behind a towel for a quick change, came a hysterical reveal: A so-cheesy-it’s-brilliant performance inside a bubbly bathtub for “I Should Be So Lucky,” perfectly emulating her classic clip from years ago. The segment would be entirely lost on American audiences (most of whom have only been following her career since 2001’s Fever), but here in London, the entirety of the crowd happily swayed and sang along with nostalgic joy.

Later into the night, Kylie dove into somewhat darker (dare I say Madonna-esque?) visual themes, playing with the industrial metallic look of the stage to provide a slick cover of INXS‘ “Need You Tonight” in a leather jacket, followed by the sensual bounce bounce of “Sexercize” (complete with ball routine, of course) and a slightly toothier, crunchy mix of The Ol’ Classic, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.”

It wasn’t until the very end last segment of the night that Kylie at last turned down the BPM (reference), delivering her Kiss Me Once Auto-Tune-heavy dud “Beautiful” (sorry!) as well as the title track, belting out the shimmering album highlight in an appropriately glittering gown.

But enough of the ballads! She started up with the uptempos again almost immediately, kicking into her Aphrodite kiss-off anthem “Get Outta My Way,” a funky electro remix of The Other Ol’ Classic, “Love At First Sight” and a blissful send-off with the always lush “All The Lovers.” (At this point, there were drawings of men kissing on a world map as words like “Love” and “Unity” flashed onscreen — LGBT warrior!)

But the night wouldn’t be complete without a soaring encore of “Into The Blue,” during which the diva, now dressed in — what else? — a glittering blue gown, nearly tripped on the stairs at the exact moment she sang the line “I’m not ashamed of all my mistakes.” (Naturally.)

“You know that was a good recovery!” she quipped in between lines. Ever the pro, she didn’t miss a beat.

For such a prolific pop deity (she celebrated her 25th anniversary in the industry back in 2012), assembling a live setlist is undoubtedly no easy task, yet the Kiss Me Once Tour delivers a nearly impeccable offering of hits new and old, in what is almost exclusively an uptempo affair that feels much more like a proper celebration of her career than a promotion for her latest record.

Although lacking somewhat in visual spectacle, the Kiss Me Once Tour proves that Kylie Minogue really doesn’t need the bells, whistles and glitter skulls to get the crowd worked into a frenzy. At this point in her career, she doesn’t need to prove anything at all, really — her mere presence alone inspires enough glee to carry an entire show. (It’s also worth noting at this point that her vocals were entirely on point for the whole night and, if anything, shined even brighter without the on-stage distractions.)

Just before the show’s finale, Kylie sashayed around the catwalk and took some acapella requests from the crowd, launching into acoustic bits of “Flower,” “Confide In Me,” “In Your Eyes” and, incredibly, her 1988 duet with Jason Donovan, “Especially For You.”

“This is like…50+1 medley album!” she joked midway though, a nod to her 1993 greatest hits megamix compilation record. And it’s true: she could have simply stood there and cooed at least another 30 classic tunes — she has that many, after all! — and the entire stadium would still be loudly singing along all night long.

Kiss Me Once Tour Setlist Les Sex In My Arms Timebomb Sexy Love Wow Step Back in Time Spinning Around Your Disco Needs You On a Night Like This Slow Hand on Your Heart Never Too Late Got to Be Certain I Should Be So Lucky Need You Tonight (INXS cover) Sexercize Can’t Get You Out of My Head Kids Beautiful Kiss Me Once Get Outta My Way Love at First Sight Flower/Confide In Me/In Your Eyes/Especially for You (Fan requested acoustic medley) In Your Eyes Confide in Me All the Lovers Into the Blue