Kylie Minogue at UIC Pavilion: Live review and gallery
There was only one constant last night at the UIC Pavilion, a smiling petite blond with a gold microphone—and lasers. Otherwise, everything about Kylie Minogue’s first live show in Chicago changed completely about every 15 minutes—the dancers' costumes, the lighting and bold graphics flashing on the vertical scrims, the Aussie diva’s wardrobe, the style of music—the whole theatrical scenario.
In one two-hour show we got Barbarella-style sci-fi airline hostess (“Come into my World”), Stephen Sprouse-inspired ’80s acid-house flashback (“Shocked”), buff guys showering in a gym/bathhouse while Kylie sings on a pommel horse (“Spinning Around”), cheerleaders with marching-band horns (“Wow”), military chic (“Like a Drug”), Hollywood starlet on chaise lounge flanked by rococo gold hounds (“I’m a Diamond for YouWhite Diamond”), New Orleans brothel with Kylie in lingerie (a reworking of “Locomotion”) and occasional “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore” and video wall interludes—the whole night opened with echoes of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Kylie might be something of an unknown in American pop circles—and she’s never played here, so she was extra thankful and warm—even inviting a superfan on stage for a photo opp. Later, she and her leggy back-up singers joined together for an impromptu acapella by request.
She’s not above referencing the competition—or a Madonna video—the harlequins with eyepatches and vaguely S&Mish outfits struck a pose for a whispery vamp on “Vogue.” Truthfully, I found myself comparing the Kylie show to the last Mad-stravaganza I saw live and finding Kylie a helluva lot more fun—way more spontaneous for sure. Kylie can go campy or over-the-top without embarrassing herself or us—there’s a wink and a nudge in there somewhere—which makes the theatrical stuff work so well in small chunks. But all would have been for naught if Kylie couldn’t sing—which, up until last night, I wouldn’t have put much money on. The 41-year-old bounced back from breast cancer surgery and chemo to tour more than 21 countries last year—and has honed her vox, stage show, banter and occasional dancing and punched things up with live horns (prominently on the devastating “Two 2 Hearts”) and what sounded to my ears like a live set with some sequencing filling out the mix—there were no less than ten LCD screens in the sound booth, so someone was controlling sequenced rhythms.
Her enthusiastic gay Chicago fanbase was in full effect (one can only assume Boystown was quiet at 9pm) if a bit subdued—I spied only one full sailor costume, but otherwise it was couples of various ages, Euro, U.K., Aussie and Kiwi expats with a smattering of indie-pop types—plus glamour girls of all ages sating their curiosity.
Kylie knows when she’s got a good thing—in addition to her surefire hits like “In My Arms,” she dropped a tune from her upcoming album called, I think, “Better than Today,” which, oddly enough, was my favorite song of the night—its slow-motion, not-quite-funky disco came to an abrupt end with Kylie nonchalantly dropping the microphone stand on cue.
Kylie and band wrapped up her set with a funked-up “Kids” (originally sung with Robbie Williams but tonight with her two sidekick divas), “Your Disco Needs You” and “In My Arms,” before coming back for “Better the Devil You Know”—a slice of Eurovision cheese, then a big thank you—finally ending with a confetti shower and “Love At First Sight.” For most of us, it was literally first sight—and Kylie, as small as she is, made it count.
Photos: Amy Mokris
*Thanks to David Humphrey for song title corrections.