Most talk in America regarding Kylie Minogue surrounds the mystery of her lack of popularity here: while the rest of the world regards the pint-sized Aussie pop diva as a multiplatinum stadium-filler, here she is little more than an import-only dance queen known mostly for her late-‘80s hit cover of “The Loco-Motion.” Her current tour, which brought her Friday night to Boston’s cavernous Agganis Arena, is her first major U.S. tour in almost nine years -- and Friday’s show saw her playing to a lot of empty seats.
There are many reasons one could give for the lack of turnout, one being the difficulty in getting album distribution Kylie has had for her last few long-players. But more importantly, there are crucial differences between what Kylie does so well and what Yanks expect out of a pop diva extravaganza.
It’s important in many ways to understand when contemplating Kylie that she is, in the world of disco-pop, a multi-decade veteran whose longevity is freakish for the genre. At 42, Kylie has been doing this for more than two decades, an absolute eternity in the field. On Friday, she showed how a pro did it -- her grand entrance, emerging as Venus on the halfshell to the tune of new title track “Aphrodite,” was a bold statement of purpose. Her current incarnation sees her populating the stage with gods and goddesses, which allows her to acknowledge her age and status while still being both sexy and ageless. In one of many mid-set costume and set changes, she emerged on the saddle of an enormous golden winged horse, giving the festivities the feel of, say, the Bugs Bunny opera take-off What’s Opera, Doc?
But the show really hit its stride near the end, when Her Minogueness went off-script to address her adoring fans. Although the show was woefully undersold, the sheer enthusiasm of those in attendance totally made up for the lack of bodies, and as Kylie came out for what would be the end of her proper set, she clearly felt the need to acknowledge the energy in the room.
The gay following that Kylie has amassed is impressive -- I haven't seen men's room lines like this show since the last time I went to see Iron Maiden or King Crimson. Surveying the crazies from the stage, Kylie paused the proceedings at one part to point out numerous fabulously over-dressed audience members, squealing “Oh my god, so many of you look amazing, Boston!” Then she turned to her band, and broke into an off-the-cuff-seeming rendition of “The Loco-motion,” a tune that clearly she does not get a lot of demand for from her international fanbase. It may be an American thing, but it was kind of awesome to see her both acknowledging her cheese-cover roots and acknowledging the fun and goofiness inherent is what she does.
Her runthrough of “Loco-motion” underscored what differentiates Kylie from so many of her American contemporaries in the pop diva sweepstakes over the years -- while the Madonnas and Britneys and Mariahs and Gagas and Rihannas will embed themselves in the trenches of modern music styles, Kylie’s sound and style is consistently rooted, with a few notable exceptions, in the deep deep Euro-disco tradition.
: Live Reviews
, Music, Kylie Minogue, Australia, More