Review: Pop Music - Kylie Minogue at the 3Arena
Is Kylie Minogue suffering a crisis of identity? Earlier this year she sought to emulate the flesh-pot gyrations of Rihanna, etc with a comeback album so disposable the entire world seemed to forget about it 10 minutes after its release.
This followed a high-profile split from her manager of two-and-a-half decades and a hook-up instead with Jay Z's Roc Nation. She also signed up to judge the BBC edition of The Voice, quitting as soon as the cameras finished rolling. You wonder: at 46, does she truly know what she wants from her career?
Her 14th concert tour doesn't quite answer that question, though it does suggest Kylie has decided that, in lieu of other options, it is probably smartest to play it safe. On her previous arena jaunt, Kylie arrived via a giant clamshell and belted out tunes from the back of a chariot hauled around a raised track by a quartet of shirtless renta-hunks.
That sort of glittering excess is hard to top and, three years on, Minogue didn't even try. It feels a stretch to describe as understated a performance that featured Minogue covering INXS's 'I Need You Tonight' standing on a table and dressed as a Third Reich dominatrix. Still, there was more nuance that you expected from a concert at this level: under the deafening brashness, the show felt like a calculated attempt to reposition Kylie as international sweetheart.
The good news was there was little from dreary new(ish) album Kiss Me Once. Clearly Kylie is in little hurry for us to renew acquaintances with the LP, exhibiting none of the pushiness associated with artists flogging fresh produce.
Instead, we were treated to a brisk greatest hits revue featuring a procession of wackily attired dancers and lean, song-focused production. It proved an exceedingly clever strategy: during a medley of her Stock Aitken and Waterman hits, Kylie mugged in a pink gown but performed the material with absolutely fealty and lack of embarrassment.
She could strut as required, too; bopping to the electro wig-out at the end of 'Slow'; waggling in high heels as, still attired in her Marlene Dietrich ensemble, she romped through 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head', three-and-a-half minutes of Pet Shop Boys-esque pop transcendence.
This and many other moments gave the evening the aspect of a triumphant procession - the difference was that, unlike her 2011 visit to the same venue, Kylie didn't feel the need to clamber into a chariot for her victory march.