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Kylie Minogue, Hammersmith Apollo | reviews, news & interviews

Kylie Minogue, Hammersmith Apollo

Kylie Minogue, Hammersmith Apollo

The last of the Aussie icon's three UK dates engages despite a shortage of classics

Kylie Minogue: proof that a pop star can last 25 years without sacrificing her quintessential niceness

Last year, Kylie Minogue's Aphrodite World Tour took in 77 shows across five continents and grossed over $50m. It was a typically lavish production featuring a bespoke mechanical stage, costumes designed by Dolce & Gabbana and high-impact jets requiring 25,000 litres of recycled water; gig-goers in the designated "Splash Zone" were even given towels and ponchos with their tickets.

Tonight's show at Hammersmith Apollo is a little bit different. It's the last of three UK dates on the singer's so-called Anti Tour, which is billed as "small, intimate and unexpected, featuring a stripped back production". Of course, "stripped back" is a relative term: the Aussie icon is still flanked by a four-piece band and a trio of sassy backing singers. But to be fair, there's not an ostrich feather in sight.

What makes the Anti Tour really interesting is its setlist. It's sold as a concert of "B-sides, demos and rarities" packed with "songs fans wouldn't normally get a chance to hear live". How many other pop stars could put on such a show? How many would ever bother?

The Anti Tour is testament to how widely Kylie has cast her stylistic net - while nearly always fishing from chart-approved waters.In practice, Minogue doesn't stick rigidly to this remit; really, it's a concert of B-sides and album tracks sprinkled with a few genuine obscurities. Still, there's no quibbling with her claim that these are "songs fans wouldn't normally get a chance to hear live". Kylie acolytes arriving at the O2 last April hoping to get soaked to the strains of "It's No Secret" - a hit single back in 1988, but only in Japan and North America - would have left disappointed. But their heroine makes amends tonight and it's one of the show's highlights.

The flip? There's no place for Kylie classics like "Better The Devil You Know" or "Spinning Around". As Minogue notes knowingly, "You're not here for la-la-la-la-la". Admittedly, there are fewer undeniable pop thrills as a result. But then again, this policy also squishes suggestions that Minogue is a "hits and filler" artist. There are plenty of gems to be rediscovered tonight. "Disco Down" sounds like a lost Abba classic. "You're The One" is a Middle Eastern-tinged ballad with an unexpectedly lusty vocal from a woman once dubbed "The Singing Budgie". "Do It Again" is just a terrifically catchy electro-pop tune.

Kylie Minogue at the Hammersmith ApolloThe Anti Tour is also testament to how widely Kylie has cast her stylistic net - while nearly always fishing from chart-approved waters. Her setlist contains everything from the plaintive piano balladry of "Bittersweet Goodbye" to "I Don't Need Anyone"'s Britpop bounce to a Calvin Harris-penned club banger called "Too Much". She even revives her cover of Little Anthony and the Imperials' doo-wop classic "Tears on My Pillow". And lovely it is too.

But most of all, it's a showcase for Kylie herself. She's not the most technically gifted singer, nor the most obviously charismatic performer, but what she does have is tremendous warmth and likability. Pete Waterman hasn't been her musical mentor since John Major was Prime Minister, but she still invites him to stand up and take a bow tonight - which he does, of course, with a not uncharacteristic air of entitlement.

And so it seems that a pop star can last 25 years in the music biz without sacrificing her quintessential niceness. In the case of Kylie Minogue, it could be the key to her continued success.

She's not the most technically gifted singer, but what she does have is tremendous warmth and likability.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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