A light in the darkness
Kylie Minogue, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, September 30
There’s something of an irony that the first gazillion hits when searching online for “Kylie” are not for diminutive pop legend Kylie Minogue but for Kylie Jenner, star of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and of her own spin-off series Life Of Kylie. A billionaire “social media personality” listed by Time magazine as one of the most influential young people in the world, you’d be forgiven for pegging Jenner as the epitome of someone famous for being famous; of being about Instagram artifice, uncomfortable latex dresses and little else. Some had not dissimilar thoughts about Minogue 30 years ago when she went from spanner-wielding female mechanic on Neighbours to signing record deals with Australia’s Mushroom Records and the UK bubblegum pop hitmakers Stock, Aitken and Waterman. And while Jenner still has plenty of time to show she can do more than smoulder and take selfies, Minogue’s long tenure as a star (there’s simply no other term for her, bar “Princess of Pop”) is testament to her tenacity, adaptability, warm personality and, yes, talent.
She’s frequently been compared with Madonna, with hangdog tenor Rufus Wainwright once writing of the two: “Madonna subverts everything for her own gain ... she surpasses even Joan Crawford in terms of megalomania.
gay icon, breast cancer awareness advocate and dancing queen survivor, Minogue is a light in the dark, especially to her armies of lifelong devotees. New album Golden – released a month before her 50th birthday in May this year – is a case in point.
The follow-up to 2015’s daft Christmas album (which features a take on The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping with Iggy Pop), its central lyrical themes are heartbreak, loss and the search to find the strength to pull the pieces of yourself back together when a significant relationship has you feeling all over the place.
Now dating GQ creative director Paul Solomon, she co-wrote each of Golden’s ten tracks in the wake of her break-up with ex-fiance Joshua Sasse, and you wonder if Kylie’s then personal situation was a factor in her new label BMG suggesting she go to Nashville and record a country album. In any case, it suits her, with the music more often than not finding the right balance between twang and the dancefloor. Despite the heavy personal themes, tonally Golden is optimistic and upbeat, with the likes of lead single Dancing seeing her channel a dollop of Dolly Parton’s sweet grit.
When she’s singing, “if I get hurt again, I’d need a lifetime to repair,” on banjo barnstormer Lifetime To Repair, you know she’ll be OK in the end. Another stand-out is Live A Little, a song that defies anxiety about “running out of time” and those who tell her “it’s too late” with irresistible beats and a voice trick where Kylie almost sounds like a slide guitar.
In glittery cowboy boots (and a variety of outfits), she recently kicked off the UK leg of this tour as Sasse was getting married to fellow Aussie Louisa Ainsworth. According to those who’ve seen them, these shows, while still theatrical, don’t smother the songs in spectacular antics. Instead, the songs – including a take on Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain and the Human League’s debut single Being Boiled, are carry their own light.