The aforementioned artistic laziness of Sticky & Sweet has made me appreciate KylieX2008 and its flaws. Within Kylie-fan-land, this is a deeply controversial tour, having been talked into some kind of symbol of the “Decadent” end of William Baker’s reign (which actually shows no sign of ending). There have been quite valid complaints that many of the show’s components are actually reformulated aspects of past tours. But also irritating bitchy-forum talk about how there weren’t enough hits/were enough hits, blah blah blah. If I was Kylie Minogue and read her forums, I’d resign purely to escape her bitchy bitchy fans. But anyway, I’m not Kylie Minogue and I should just get over it.
The intent of the show was to move away from the Showgirl phase. No feathers, less old favourites, a more minimal look and sound – a move back to the now hallowed Fever era and its comparatively bold simplicity. This was an exciting shift because I and her *better* fans have always thought K is at her best when she’s pushing the envelope and isn’t in career retreat mode. (Although interestingly this was a career retreat of sorts, since X has sold well below expectations. So well done for not pulling out the feathers.)
But the centrepiece of this stark simplicity – her giant, stark and simple stage – was, for me at least, part of the reason the show failed to connect. The stage was a monster. Basically a giant light box with a massive slanted video screen floor, and movable video curtains that could shift around the stage creating various effects and moods. No steps, no catwalk, no giant rotating things. Just Kylie standing in a box, and occasionally looking lost in it. While I can appreciate the stark minimalism, I notice that in each show my attention often wandered to the mechanics of the stage – how do the light curtains move? Where’s that light coming from? Where did that giant skull come from? How is it rigged up?
Another mini-issue for me was that lots of the show’s best moments were kind of, if you think about, rejigs of past best moments. The entrance as a kind of cyborg-type-thing was like Fever’s “Kyborg” rising from the stage; geisha stuff has been done before; elements of Body Language Live ran through it, and I’m sick of her closing with I Should Be So Lucky. But when it was pushing new ground I was amazed. Particularly the skull section, with its contrasting of gorgeous electronic imagery, a glitter skull and, bizarrely, Communist chic. Like every Kylie moment that *really* grabs me, it eluded to themes much darker than it actually revealed, particularly in the songs where that skull was just sitting there, overshadowing everything. This is the peculiar appeal of K: we never get to see what’s going on inside, which means that whenever we get the slightest hint of the dark, the complex and the personal, it can wield a lot of power.
But on some level I remained disconnected. I can appreciate that artistically this was a much superior show to Madge’s — stylish theatre compared to a casino extravaganza. I still don’t know what I think of it. I think it was great, if flawed. But I also think that there’s been no real shift in her art (yes I said it) since KylieFever. Which makes me wonder what she’d be like sans William Baker? Now I’m sounding like a forum bitch, but it’s just a thought.
And speaking of bitches, here’s a shout out to the lovely ladies who decided to spoil my view, and the views of all those behind me, with their grotesque “showgirl headdresses“, which they refused to take off because they were “very expensive“. Nice.