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KYLIE - Showgirl (Homecoming Live)   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Wednesday, 17 January 2007

"a perfect microcosm of the pop ethos."



Kylie, the elusive pop princess, is both everything and nothing. Nobody seems to know what she stands for, her interviews are rare and rather bland, her private life – despite the intrusive telephoto lens of the Scum Papparazzi – mostly a mystery. In many ways, the perfect pop product, mute, timeless and synonomous with memorable snatches of melody, Kylie’s third live album (after “Intimate And Live” and “Fever”) is perhaps a perfect microcosm of the pop ethos.


On one level, the purely musical element of this show is a concise, two hour recreation of Kylie’s greatest hits : UltimateKylie made flesh. The set leaps between the various incarnations of her work without missing a beat – placing the anodyne, but bitterly effective “Better The Devil You Know” next to the modern, slinky “In Your Eyes”, and the two, despite the massive gap in styles, are both, in essence, Kylie.


What is Kylie? Kylie is a cipher. Whatever you want to project on her, that’s what she is. See nothing but vaccous pop? That’s all there is. See a intruiging artist managing both popular and profound? Kylie can be anything you want her to be. In the world of your imagination she is either everything that is great, or grates, about pop.


If you take away everything but the music, “Showgirl” is both essential and utterly superfluous : the music is much like the medium itself. Every song is both a concise pop thrill and a tragedy : a kitchen-sink radio-1 pop soap opera of love, less, redemption and dancing. “It’s just a fantasy, the way it should be, you kiss me, I’m falling…” she sings in “On A Night Like This”, the wild sense of abandon, the transcendant that populates truly great music – taking people to the Other Place that Bono eulogizes in “Beautiful Day”.


Talking of Bono, The Pope Of Pop himself materialises like a vision of the Weeping Madonna for a truly bizarre rendition of Robbie’s “Kids” halfway through. Sadly, Bono’s croaky performance demonstrates that whilst the Irish Jesus is game for anything, good lad, he is also rarely capable of acquitting himself with aplomb. (He’s also outclassed by several galaxies in his recent duet of ‘Tower of Song’ with Leonard Cohen), and here he can do little but fail to match the memory of Robbie’s far superior original. Not that this matters one jot : in five minutes time, faster that the lifespan of a Big Mac, here’s another disposable pop thrill ; “Shocked”. Or “Spinning Around”. Or the compelling, brilliant “Confide In Me”. All executed with a tongue-in-cheek knowing about how awful, and awesome, this bubblegum is : let us, for now, forget the pompous semi-West-End trappings of the breakdancing men in thongs and the 6ft  peacock trails, and concentrate on the canon of work Kylie has produced. Unlike Madonna, there are no allusions as to what Kylie is, a woman trapped inside the artifice of pop, and revelling in this. Suspending disbelief, an audience in the theatre of this strange movie called Pop.


If nothing else, “Showgirl” is the very apex of pop music, a concise summary of a sometimes uneven career turned into two hours of nothing but highlights : from the thrill of “In Your Eyes”, the daft joy of the disco nursery rhyme that is “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” to the utter camp parody of “Hand On My Heart” and the simplistic wonder of “I Should be So Lucky”, “Showgirl” is a reminder, as if we needed, that this determined soap star has that rarest of qualities that all great pop music needs to rise above the droll and bland mass of aural pollution : brilliant, brilliant songs.




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