When reviewing the likes of Britney ‘live’, one must inevitably address the proverbial pink elephant in the room.
With others, you grasp at straws to communicate just how uncomfortable it can be hearing a powerhouse vocalist ‘tear the house down’ while sacrificing, perhaps irredeemably, a speck of beauty from their voice in the process.
(That an article headlined ‘Why do stars like Adele keep losing their voice?’ received 131,000 shares last year says it all.)
With Kylie, it’s different. Her voice isn’t the strongest in pop, but it is one of the most distinctive. And she never stretches it. She simply sings, and always with charisma and effortless grace. It comes as naturally to her as breathing.
Crucially, she also always sounds more or less the same live as she does on record. That of course goes for all her instantly-recognizable guises: whether the cartoonish girliness of Loco-Motion, the ethereal warmth of All the Lovers or the eerie disconnection of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.
All three iconic, albeit utterly different songs got an airing last night, as Kylie offered a one-hour, 16-song, whistle-stop tour of some of her biggest hits, during a beautifully glamorous nighttime set in Hyde Park. That said, she performed the latter track without the trademark chilliness. In fact, she literally didn’t stop smiling all evening.
And rightly so. It was a warm night, and there was an sense of celebration in the air, of a fabulous 50-year-old woman and an enduring showbiz career spanning four decades.
It was one of gentle merriness, too, as opposed to outright inebriation. This perhaps had something to do with the respectful crowd: all Radio 2 listeners, as such skewered towards the over 35s, despite Rita Ora’s gallant attempt to attract younger crowds earlier in the day. Ultimately, it seemed everyone was in a good mood having not sidestepped pushy, sweary teenagers all day, as per most British music festivals. (And with that, I realize I am officially old).
Furthermore, for many, it wasn’t their first time at the Kylie rodeo. Although it was likely their first time seeing her perform material from the Nashville-inspired Golden, her fourteenth (!) studio album released earlier this year, and her sixth UK number one.
The amplification of twangy guitars and some simple line dancing gave a taste of what’s to come from her upcoming tour. The set had the feel of an intimate 70s variety show, complete with a chatty Kylie entertaining the audience a cappella during a technical issue and bringing on two genuinely surprising star guests.
The first, a startled and disheveled Jason Donovan, who ‘literally turned up on my bike’ to support his old Neighbours co-star. ‘Next thing you know I’m onstage @BBCRadio2 Hyde Park in front of 70,000 people,’ he later tweeted.
It showed. His lack of prep – especially next to Kylie unflappable professionalism – left me wincing. I was especially sensitive to it given, in my humble opinion, Especially For You is probably the most annoying song ever recorded. But the crowd, many of whom grew up with these guys, still went wild, seemingly unbothered that Jason didn’t actually have a microphone…
I had my money on Nick Cave or Robbie Williams showing up next. Instead, somewhat inexplicably, it was Rick Astley.
He and Kylie duetted on an energetic mashup of Never Gonna Give You Up (the second most annoying song of all time?) and I Should Be So Lucky (dare I say it, the third?). I was far more impressed with their spot on rendition of the belter that is Kids, with Rick’s low notes better complimenting Kylie’s range than Robbie’s mocking parody of an upper register on the original.
But neither could upstage Kylie, and I don’t think they wanted to. They were as awestruck as everyone else.
This woman literally didn’t put a cowboy-booted foot wrong all evening. And the audience went home as charmed as they ever were. Simply lovely.
More from Gay Star News
Kylie Minogue introduces new boyfriend to the world