Monday, December 15, 2008

X2008 - Opening Night In Sydney

The first Kylie show I ever saw was her "Enjoy Yourself" tour way back in 1990. It was my first ever concert and I went with my mum. Those memories have blurred over the years but I still vividly remember Kylie's ugly Australian flag outfit and bursting into tears when she left the stage. Even as a child, I guess I was immune to Minogue overload! Almost twenty years (fuck!) have passed since then but I still get just as excited about seeing Kylie. Sunday night was no exception. Despite already seeing the show in London (and having watched the UK televised broadcast at least a dozen times), I couldn't wait for Ms Minogue to hit the stage. X2008 is, quitely simply, an exquisitely conceived pop concert. The staging is fresh and original, the setlist is brave (superbly showcasing "X", while still incorporating the big hits as well as new material) and Kylie further cements her reputation as the consummate live performer by holding everything together perfectly. There have already been some amazing reviews of the concert (I suggest reading this), so I won't bother with a full rundown but here are some my random thoughts about last night's extravaganza:

* I'm cursed when it comes to cameras. Mine broke halfway during the opening act. I just can't believe it happened when I finally managed to get amazing seats for a Kylie show. The pics (above and below) were taken by my friend and fellow Melissa Tkautz devotee, Chris.

* Acer Arena is a really shit venue. The building is clinical and the facilities (particularly the food outlets) leave a lot to be desired. The stadium is also too big for the disproportionately small stage. I miss the Entertainment Centre!

* Kylie concerts provide shocking foresight into what happens to flamboyant homosexuals when they hit middle age. Note to self - Sequins, feather boas, exposed midriffs and cigarette extenders should be avoided at all costs over the age of 30.

* I love Kylie's bizarre fanbase. The mix of outrageous gays, bogan housewives and pre-pubescent girls is an experience in and of itself.

* The opening sequence is epic and Kylie's new outfit (black instead of purple) is much more flattering. Mixing "Boombox" into "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" was an inspired decision.

* No matter how hard I try to get into it, I still think "Ruffle My Feathers" is a pile of stinking shit. I'm so glad it was left off "X". Last night's version of "In Your Eyes" was also a bit of a disaster. They were either playing the wrong backing track or it's the remix from hell. I think they may have had technical difficulties because Kylie's voice was completely lost in the mix.

* The live version of "Heart Beat Rock" brought the house down - even without the complete stage. This is the perfect example of how to reinvent and improve upon a relatively ordinary album track.

* I was slightly surprised by the rapturous response to "Wow" given its less than impressive Australian chart run. It was the first song that really got everyone dancing and singing along.

* Time has not wearied the genius of "Shocked"!

* The boat from the "Beach Party" segment is missing but it doesn't really make a huge difference. "Love Boat" is as fabulous as ever but the big revelation was "Copacabana", which Steve Anderson has almost entirely re-worked for this leg of the tour. It's longer and has new lyrics. The choreography has also been changed. Kylie does a lot more dancing and there were gasps and howls of appreciation when she was spun upside down by one of the dancers. At least half the people I spoke to afterwards named "Copacabana" as their favourite part of the show, which just goes to prove how out of touch fansites like SayHey are with the general public. Australia, it seems, prefers Kylie as camp as possible.

* Personally, I think "Copacabana" is genius - working on so many different levels. Many people will just appreciate it as Kylie singing a camp classic (she throws at least one into every concert) but it's also an incredibly wry nod to Kylie handing over her own showgirl crown before she ends up like poor Lola - the name of her character in "The Delinquents", no less. I just love the irony and self-reflection on display.

* I must be hallucinating because I think Kylie mentions "darkrooms" during "Copacabana"! Did anyone else hear it? It was towards the end when she talks about Lola's fate and sings something along the lines of: that's when there was still a show but now there's just a disco and a darkroom! Maybe my drink was spiked...

* Combining elements of "Got To Be Real" into "Spinning Around" turns one of my least favourite Kylie hits into something very special.

* "Like A Drug" on the skull is perfection. This should have been a single.

* Unless I'm mistaken, last night's version of "Slow" didn't contain the sample of "Free" that was used in Europe.

* The child Kylie dragged on stage (above) was actually quite cute this time around. At least she didn't break into a medley of obscure Kylie album tracks.

* "2 Hearts" is destined to become a live classic. I think it will be the "Kids" moment of all future tours.

* Kylie spent so much more time talking during this concert than the London show. I particularly love how she tries to throw in the occasional Australianism. It's as endearing as it is unconvincing. My favourite was when she declared that she needed a "cut lunch" to get from one end of the stage to the other. Charlene would be proud!

* Intermissions are good. (Deep, I know!)

* More than 6 beers on an empty stomach makes Mike a very loud and very embarrassing boy, who is prone to dancing like an idiot.

* The Manga section didn't really work as well as I remembered. "Come Into My World" was stilted, while "Nu-Di-Ty" and "Sen-SHIT-ized" had people sitting back down in their seats. I still love the staging and costume (I think there were more acrobatics last night than in London) but putting the two worst songs on "X" together was never the brightest idea.

* "Flower" is one of the most beautiful songs Kylie has ever performed. I got chills and goosebumps! It's a complete scandal that this didn't make the cut for "X". Kylie was born to sing this anthem.

* I still don't like "I Believe In You" as a ballad.

* Act 7 was AMAZING. "On A Night Like This" got the party started, while "Your Disco Needs You" had people dancing in the aisles. The response to "Kids" was incredible (can someone please explain why this song only works live?) and "Step Back In Time" drove all the pissed mums from the Western Suburbs into a frenzy. I've never seen so many Breezers swaying through the air!

* The fun continued with "In My Arms", which was received like a #1 hit - not a massive #35 flop. Act 7 closed with a re-worked version of "Better The Devil You Know", which was missing from the London concert I saw. I'm not a huge fan of the Latin overhaul but Kylie seemed to have a lot of fun blowing that damned whistle.

* Having so many obscure songs in the seemingly endless encore section is perhaps unwise. I know Kylie loves it but "No More Rain" really is a stinker and it went down like a lead balloon. Following that up with (an adorable acoustic version of) her international flop "All I See" left some fans looking a little confused but I loved it.

* I like the version of "The One" she performed last night much better than her rendition in London. It started acoustically before the dancers joined her for the remixed version and ended with Kylie kneeling on stage singing "love me, love me". Amazingly, she actually looked like she was enjoying the song for a change.

* I have serious "Love At First Sight" fatigue. Kylie could happily stop performing it for a couple of years as far as I'm concerned. "I Should Be So Lucky", on the other hand, was an absolute treat and brought the house down.

* Who do I have to fuck to get Kylie to perform "Word Is Out" or "Never Too Late"?

In conclusion, X2008 is every bit as fantastic as I remember. Last night's concert wasn't quite as polished as the show I saw in London but it was warmer and much more personal. It's quite amazing to think how much material is covered. This kind of value for money is almost unprecedented. The Australian setlist might be a bit too generous (it does drag in places) but the overall effect is still breathtaking. Most importantly, the concert brilliantly showcases an excellent and sadly misunderstood album that deserved a better reaction from fans and critics alike. X2008 is the crowning jewel of the entire "X" era and makes the shitty single choices, dodgy videos and cheap cash-in albums seem insignificant. This extravaganza is not to be missed.


Magical Froggy said...

That kid really must stink judging by the look on Kylie's face.

Jay said...

The answer to your last question is....

Willam Baker

though you shouldn't settle for anythign less than Word Is Out, Love Takes Over Me and Where Is The Feeling?

Peibols said...

Great post!!
You should write it in Spanish, so I could copycat it.

Just say that....
- in 3rd world version fo SayHey (the infamous PopKylie forum) they HATE Copaccabana. And I don't know why!! It's was the part of the show where I most cried. Kylie being a showgirl, singing LIVE and dancing, making a totally soap opera with the dancers. Brilliant!

- I DO like Ruffle My Feathers.

- After all our conversations, I'm starting to like Flower.

- Kylie must repeat Dannii's duet. If I were Baker, I'd make them sing "The Winner Takes it all" after I Believe in You.

- Cheryl won the X Factor.

- If you want, I'd be a top, and fuck William Baker, just for you to have that two songs in one set list. That's my level of friendship for you.

- La siento dentro.

Anonymous said...

As usual, Mike, your blog had me spitting my coffee out at some of your hilarious comments--a perfect way to start my day (other than watching an Iraqi journalist hurl his shoes at Bush, of course!). Thanks for posting a great review---

Anonymous said...

Your reviews always make me smile. Just so funny - and sad to say, true. i loved that comment about All I see;)

Johnny D said...

I thought the encore brought the house down, but between some of the the X Dregs, a few too many unreleased and obscure tracks, the ballad version of i believe in you and the intermission made the whole thing too stop/start. Still it did make for plenty of moments to go to the toilet/get more drinks/use the atm/look at merchandise.

I think there should be more hits/less X.

Mike said...

Pablo - Bitch, please! As if you could top anyone...

Thanks Anon(s)!

Johnny - Nice to hear from you again. However, I totally disagree. Kylie has just done two greatest hits tours. It's time that she was brave enough to showcase something new and X2008 really works. I just wish she had performed the entire album (I'd die to hear "Stars" live) and cut some of the more obvious hits. I know it would have pissed off the casual fans but they can just go home and listen to "Ultimate Kylie" instead!

bubu said...

the first pic is the best thing Kylie has done ever. her facial expresion says it all...

Gusworld said...

There was no onstage kid moment at the second concert. A definite plus. Accepting a small flag from the audience and wearing it as a cape loses points however!

Justin said...

Glad you enjoyed the show Mike! I would kill to have seen X2008 but sadly I couldn't afford it. I'm making do with the fabulous concert DVD though.

Ruffle My Feathers is fantastic! >:|

I honestly think X has been one of the most underrated pop album of2007 and 2008. It did deserve a much better reaction from fans and critics especially since it shits all over Fever and Light Years IMO. I'm sure the sad queens over at sayhey will be eating it up in a few more years just like with BL and IP.

Chris said...

I loved the photo with the little girl when I saw it on my camera - cheers for using it Mike! I'd do anything to get her to perform 'Word Is Out' too...

Loved the tour. It was easily the best Kylie concert I've seen live, I think. Brave, innovative, stylish. I was a happy camper.


Jump! said...

"never too late" is a terrible single and I couldn't imagine her trying to re-work it. Please Mike, don't fuck will baker or anyone to have that song played live. Maybe the cheese-tastic video scarred me but seriously..

I'd probably give Baker a BJ if he could get Kylie to do the PSB version of "falling" but I don't think we could go full penetation for any favors. Will kinda turns my stomache.