Gorilla, 14th March
Kylie Minogue has performed in Manchester frequently enough, but never in a venue as intimate as the 550-capacity Gorilla. Tickets sold out in seconds for this tour of five small European venues. The atmosphere in Gorilla pre-show was one of anticipation, as everyone in the room knew how fortunate they were to be there.
There was no support act — you’re seeing Kylie Minogue, who needs a support act? — and Kylie came onto the stage, clad in double denim and sporting a beaming smile, to perform three tracks from upcoming album Golden. The highlight here was the delightful ‘Raining Glitter’, a track-title which foreshadowed a showering of the audience in that very thing.
Whilst these first three songs have not yet been released (although an argument could very easily be made for ‘Raining Glitter’ to have been a lead single), the reception each received was immense and even seemed to surprise Kylie: “I always try to prepare myself for Manchester,” she told the adoring audience, “but I never can.”
She informed everyone that she felt it right that, as these are such special, intimate shows, she should play songs that you perhaps don’t hear her play as often, as opposed to making it a ‘Best Of’ show. There was no place for Kylie classics ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ or ‘2 Hearts’, then, but instead, a beautiful rendition of the brooding ‘Breathe’ as well as a stripped-back performance of ‘Put Yourself In My Place’. The audience showed their appreciation by ignoring a dramatic pre-chorus pause and simply firing their singalong straight into it, which certainly kept the band on their toes. Her pre-encore acoustic ‘All The Lovers’, too, was a crescendoing delight.
Keeping with her new country sound, she performed a rendition of ‘Islands In The Stream’ that had everyone grinning, though no one more than Kylie herself, especially at a completely spontaneous acapella singalong of her duet with ex-boyfriend Jason Donavan, ‘Especially For You’. If ever there was a metaphor for her relationship with her fans being more powerful than any other relationship, this was it. Indeed, throughout the night it was the fact that Kylie was so obviously having a great time that was truly infectious.
Her songs aren’t all wholly cheerful though, even if the melodies at times suggest otherwise. The banjo-accompanied ‘A Lifetime To Repair’ sounded like an Alanis Morisette-esque number, but betrayed a smiling-through-the-pain attitude that hasn’t been explored extensively by Kylie before. The end of the chorus told us “If I get hurt again I’ll need a lifetime to repair”.
A similarly new topic, which was tackled in the night’s final song, ‘Dancing’, is that of mortality. Kylie is turning 50 soon (she’s “49 and ten-twelfths”, apparently) though she still performs (and looks) as though she could be approaching 30, but the song gives no indication of slowing down. She sings “When I go out, I wanna go out dancing” in the chorus, and the song itself was one of the strongest of the night and, arguably, one of her best ever singles.
The key word when considering the entirety of this show is ‘fun’. It looks fun to perform and she showed a love for her fans by choosing to do this intimate tour as well as her arena-filling one later in the year. It was also immensely fun to attend: the deafening cheers after each song, old and new, told you that much. That her music still feels so fresh after 30 years of performing is a testament to her hard work and reinvention, and if this is a taste of things to come then new, country Kylie will continue to wow crowds far bigger than the lucky few who were given a chance to see her up close tonight.