“Do you see the sign for the New Yorker Hotel and the long line of gay men?”
Queens, fairies, and muscle Mary’s of every shape and size (okay, perhaps even a few ladies–hey, Camille!) lined the streets of 34th and 8th Avenue on Sunday night to await the one and only Kylie Minogue.
Tonight marked the first of three New York shows for the For You, For Me Tour, a two week North American tour created as a way for Minogue to thank her longtime American and Canadian fans. For a career spanning over twenty-two years, complete with ten studio albums and fifty-three singles under her belt, that’s a long time to keep a fan waiting.
So…was it worth the wait?
Once inside, we were crammed together almost immediately against the stage, packed together like sardines (hey hey, writer’s cliche!). Gay, glittery sardines. We stood about six rows from the front, which in retrospect was prime real estate for the show, considering that the very front row was inhabited by the person who queued up at 2 a.m. the night before.
At only about fifteen minutes past than the show’s projected start time, the lights dimmed and the ballroom went pitch black until the dull glow of three or four blue bulbs hung overhead. Soaked in a sea of blue light, the crowd immediately began to chant, “10! 9! 8!…” as the familiar countdown of “Light Years” began booming overhead.
Then, the great reveal: Floating down on a giant, metallic skull borrowed from the KylieX2008 Tour, the superstar was decked out in a glitter-and-glitz (and admittedly, Gaga-esque) metallic leotard and a giant white fur wrap, complete with a solar system cap encircled by small, glittery planets orbiting around the head of Miss Kylie Minogue.
“Listen, can you hear the distance calling?” she crooned to the crowd, now thrown into a full-on frenzy of flashing cameras and hands held high in praise. From below, she appeared to be miles away. Even at that height, she looked as stunning as ever; the wild shrieks of the ballroom only confirming this further.
It was a far cry from the veracious introduction of Grace Jones seen in this same space only months prior. Different, elegant…just what one would expect from the Showgirl school of etiquette.
More than Grace, or Madonna, or any other larger-than-life or flavor-of-the-month pop diva on the scene, Kylie Minogue possesses the greatest feminine sensibility of all. “Red Blooded Woman,” performed on top of a pommel horse a la the Showgirl Tour, displayed her coquettish charm in full. With each bend (and snap), Minogue oozed sexuality; winking to the crowd, and pouting and pursing her lips. With every coo, twirl, and flirty hair-flip, she embodied what it is to truly be “lady-like.” For a very brief moment, even I was turned on.
The For You, For Me Tour is as much a career retrospective as it is a concert “greatest hits,” showcasing the best elements of the Fever Tour, the Showgirl Tour, and a large portion of the KylieX2008 Tour. The result is a thoroughly comprehensive Minogue experience, complete with all the classics, fan favorites, and even a few surprise obscurities hidden in between for the hardcore enthusiasts.
Though the set-list would have to be about four hours long to fully satisfy the crowd’s want, plenty of the favorites made the cut, including “Spinning Around,” “Slow,” “Shocked,” “Better the Devil You Know,” the ballad version of “I Believe in You,” and even “White Diamond,” a ballad I never thought I’d experience in person.
Early along the way, Minogue debuted a song from her upcoming album, the Nerina Pallot-penned “Better Than Today.” It was simple and sweet, a glee-filled go-around choreographed between microphone stands and performed with along with two back-up singers (which you can see from her video blog.) It’s chipper and all, but admittedly, I can’t say that it truly stuck with me long after the show’s end.
Kylie Minogue knows her audience only too well, playing up her camp appeal to no end. One needed to look no further for proof than the shower sequence played about halfway through the show, featuring a video medley of her male dancers stripping down and lathering up on screen, all four eventually coming out from behind the stage, stripping down together behind a single towel, and throwing their briefs into an adoring crowd.
Mercifully, the costumier has toned it down a few notches for this tour. Gone are the abysmal Jean-Paul Gaultier geisha outfits and puff-ball cheer costumes from the X tour–in their place, form-fitting futuristic garb, complete with sexy, complimented cuts and elegant sophistication.
As far as audience approval, the fan favorites were heard loud and clear: “In My Arms” and “Love at First Sight,” both of which briefly transforming the Hammerstein Ballroom into a full-on neon rave, complete with bursts of confetti, smoke jets cascading from the stage, and a roaring crowd jumping together in unison. In that euphoric moment, as members of the audience raised their hands in the shapes of hearts, there was no finer feelings…it was pure, true love
If there were any drawbacks to the performance, they were all external to the spectacle onstage. Being 5′ 4″, i can’t say that my view of the stage was all that good amidst all the fist-pumping and sign waving. Still, I saw more often than not, and can confirm that Kylie Minogue is as stunning in person as any of her recent couture-happy photoshoots.
More than my semi-blocked vision, my experience was skewed thanks to the mouthy neighbor to my right, who’s boyfriend of four years (Jeffrey) failed to show up tonight. I mean, they had been having problems this whole week, and it probably didn’t help that he told Jeffrey to “fuck off,” but to Jeffrey’s credit, I wouldn’t exactly want to attend a concert with this guy either.
I can’t stress how bad he sucked: from shouting parody lyrics over Kylie’s own voice throughout the show, to loudly proclaiming his fandom (he owns the super-super rare Canadian promo of “Love at First Sight”), to nonsensical, eye-watering screeching, to recalling to no one in particular that had Kylie sung “Breathe” and Jeffrey shown up tonight, he would have been having sex right there in the audience.
“God, does he ever shut up?” the flamboyant man to my left whispered to me. I nodded back, “I don’t think so.” If you’re reading this gay man, I sincerely hope Jeffrey leaves you…and takes your super-rare promos along with him.
Personal highlights included the opportunity to experience “Speakerphone,” “The One,” “Confide in Me,” and the pommel horse routine for “Red Blooded Woman” in person for the very first time. And of course, the mere sight of the icon that is Miss Kylie Minogue.
A class act through and through, Kylie Minogue is one of the most gracious, genuine personalities I’ve ever encountered in a performer. With this tour, the artist at last proves to America just why she truly is the reigning showgirl of the music industry.
My only regret was in not purchasing tickets for the two preceding nights in the city–and for opting not to punch my neighbor in the face.
Photo and video credits to my faithful concert buddy, Artful Michael.