Live review: Kylie Minogue at the Hollywood Bowl
What kind of show was Kylie Minogue's Sunday night debut at the Hollywood Bowl?
The kind in which the dancers outnumbered the musicians, the backup vocalists
had several costume changes and the headliner took the stage astride an enormous
bejeweled skull as a small battalion of futuristic robots twirled beneath
To paraphrase Minogue's old pal Robbie Williams, the ego finally had landed.
Or had it? Unlike Madonna or Lady Gaga, Minogue doesn't really trade in imperturbable cool or calculating power plays. Her act is a kinder, gentler spin on dance-pop divadom, and though Sunday's concert stop -- midway through her first-ever North American tour -- offered no shortage of self-aggrandizing spectacle, the effect was more welcoming than it was intimidating.
Riding that sparkly cranium as it lowered from the ceiling, Minogue introduced herself not as a dictator or a goddess, but as a flight attendant on Air Kylie, here to serve our needs with style and speed.
That she certainly did, zooming through nearly two dozen songs in just under two hours to the very vocal delight of her fans, many of whom arrived at the Bowl dressed for the occasion. "I love a bit of arts and crafts in the audience," said Minogue following a grinding electro-industrial version of "Slow," from her 2003 album, "Body Language."
Though she's a huge star throughout Europe and in her native Australia, Minogue's following always has stayed cult-size in the United States, where she's still best known for her 1987 cover of "The Loco-Motion." ("Can't Get You Out of My Head," from 2001, threatened to change that but stopped just short.) That disparity in star power might be why Minogue continues to project an air of approachability; perhaps she's simply a nice person.
Either way, Minogue managed Sunday to give her carefully calibrated arena-pop moves an uncommon degree of human warmth, whether she was stomping around the stage in thigh-high leather boots ("Shocked") or cavorting with several slices of gym-rat beefcake in a simulated shower scene ("Red Blooded Woman").
She even proved she doesn't consider herself above "The Loco-Motion," which she turned into a slow-burn burlesque number complete with a slyly suggestive trombone solo.
Minogue's only misstep came near the end of the show, during a tedious ballad sequence inspired by "Sunset Boulevard" that found her adopting an Old Hollywood hauteur, which seemed at odds with the lovable character she'd spent the previous 90 minutes sketching out.
Fortunately, this is a woman who knows how to read a room: For her next number, "Burning Up," Minogue donned a black-vinyl bustier and ushered us into a dimly lighted bondage dungeon where nobody appeared to be having anything approaching a bad time.
Photo credit: Axel Koester / For The Times