AUSSIE RULES

Some 14 years after cancer forced Kylie Minogue to pull out of her head­line slot at Glas­ton­bury she played a tri­umphant, emo­tional set. In an ex­clu­sive chat with TOM BRYANT she talks about the long road back

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IT WAS one of the most emo­tional mo­ments in Glas­ton­bury his­tory. In front of 100,000 rev­ellers – and mil­lions more watching on TV at home – Kylie Minogue wiped away tears on the Pyra­mid stage as she ad­dressed the crowd.

“In 2005 I was meant to be here,” she said. “Cir­cum­stances meant that I did not make it. I wished things were dif­fer­ent – but life is what it is. We’re all here in this mo­ment.”

The fact that tears flowed on Sun­day af­ter­noon half­way through her elec­tric set should come as lit­tle sur­prise. Four­teen years ago, the pop star was due to head­line but a breast cancer diagnosis forced her to pull out. She would have been only the third fe­male solo artist in his­tory to head­line the fes­ti­val at the time.

“I re­ally thought I missed my op­por­tu­nity and as the years went by, I said to my­self: ‘Well this just isn’t go­ing to happen’,” she says.

Even now, she re­mem­bers vividly be­ing back home in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, with mum Carol and dad Ron and watching the 2005 fes­ti­val on tele­vi­sion.

De­spite be­ing in the grip of an eight-month cycle of chemo­ther­apy and ra­dio­ther­apy, the in­jus­tice of hav­ing to can­cel the show af­fected her deeply too.

“My mem­ory’s so strong of so much around that time and while my fo­cus had moved on from Glas­ton­bury, I was watching from Aus­tralia and go­ing, ‘I’m meant to be there’,” she says.

Aged just 36 at the time of her diagnosis, it was a tu­mul­tuous pe­riod in her life. After the ham­mer-blow of the ill­ness, she re­treated into a “dark” place and barely left her par­ents’ home. How­ever Kylie also de­cided to make her condition pub­lic.

“I was meant to be on stage in two or three days so I needed an

ex­pla­na­tion, and it just didn’t cross my mind not to say it,” she says. “I prob­a­bly didn’t think about the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of that, but I am not a very good liar.”

After fi­nally be­ing given the all-clear in Jan­uary, 2006, fol­low­ing a par­tial mas­tec­tomy, she was then forced to take med­i­ca­tion for five years.

“The lows, you hate them at the time but it is char­ac­ter build­ing,” she says. “I kind of hate say­ing that, but it’s true, you know.”

One of the pos­i­tive side-ef­fects of Kylie go­ing pub­lic was the surge in the num­bers of women hav­ing mam­mo­grams. Dubbed the “Kylie effect”, screen­ings in­creased by a third.

“I have peo­ple come to me and tell me to my face, ‘Well I went to get checked and I’m now five years cancer free,’” she says.

“It’s a good feeling to know that you’ve raised aware­ness and helped some peo­ple.”

Sit­ting in front of Kylie at a corner table in a bar at Clar­idges Ho­tel, she is ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect and more.

Warm, charm­ing and incredibly self-dep­re­cat­ing, she looks re­splen­dent in min­i­mal make-up and much younger than 51.

It’s easy to see why dash­ing GQ creative direc­tor Paul Solomons fell for her. The pair be­gan dat­ing over a year ago and he met her fam­ily in­clud­ing brother Bren­don and pop star sis­ter Dan­nii, for the first time, last Christ­mas.

Sud­denly there was a smile on her face again after the heartache of split­ting up with fi­ancé Joshua Sasse amid ru­mours he was un­faith­ful.

Kylie’s lu­mi­nous blue eyes light up at Paul’s name. And she lets out an up­roar­i­ous laugh upon men­tion of the soppy In­sta­gram pic­tures the pair like to post.

“Who says you can’t be soppy and ro­man­tic later in life? Par­tic­u­larly when you find a good and true love,” she says. “It doesn’t mat­ter how young or old you are. I feel even more thank­ful and lucky that I have this in my life now... I’m re­ally be­ing taken care of.”

Not that Kylie needs taking care of. Ever since she burst onto our screens as tomboy Char­lene in Neigh­bours in the late 1980s, she has worked non-stop – amass­ing an es­ti­mated £50mil­lion for­tune.

She has sold a stag­ger­ing 80mil­lion records world­wide. Her last stu­dio al­bum – Golden – went straight to num­ber one, she has a great­est hits al­bum out and is cur­rently on a UK tour, taking in dates in­clud­ing Manch­ester, Corn­wall and Brighton.

She says the run of shows this year was “easy” – com­pared to her last set of dates, which saw her can­cel con­certs in Dublin and Belfast due to ill­ness.

The singer said at the time how she was “so, so sorry” after pick­ing up a vo­cal strain caused by a throat in­fec­tion.

“The tour last year in Europe nearly fin­ished me off,” she says. “I don’t ac­tu­ally have a cape, so it was phys­i­cally re­ally challengin­g for me.”

To sur­vive – and thrive – over three decades is al­most un­heard of in a no­to­ri­ously tough busi­ness. It sug­gests an in­ner steel un­der­neath her cheery per­sona. Just ask her team on tour.

“I like to be the boss... if any­one does any­thing stupid, they get the look,” she laughs, although I sus­pect she’s serious.

She is not unlike her idol Dolly Par­ton in this re­spect, who five years ago also took to the Glas­ton­bury stage to per­form the Leg­ends slot.

Kylie re­veals the two of them met up ear­lier this year while Dolly was in the UK, the pair of them dis­cussing the small mat­ter of the Aussie’s date at Wor­thy Farm.

“Dolly said, ‘Oh you’re go­ing to love Glas­ton­bury. You know I did a new song for that called Mud be­cause I thought there was go­ing to be mud.’ I couldn’t be­lieve I was hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion. She just told me to go out there and en­joy it.”

And she cer­tainly did that...

New al­bum Step Back in Time is out now. Kylie’s tour trav­els to Corn­wall, Manch­ester, Lytham St Annes, Ed­in­burgh, Scar­bor­ough, and Brighton Pride. For tick­ets, go to kylie.com

I should be so lucky: A smil­ing Kylie watches other acts on the Pyra­mid stage along­side her new man Paul Solomons

Kylie was joined at Glas­ton­bury by fel­low Aus­tralian Nick Cave for their duet, Where The Wild Roses Grow

The singer was vis­i­bly emo­tional at times dur­ing her Glas­ton­bury set

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