All the gigs of my life: Gig 53 – Kylie Minogue, Monday, March 19, 2001, Hammersmith Apollo

My last Kylie gig for 17 years. And sadly, it’s one I neglected to record fully in my diary.

The “On A Night Like This” tour happened during a vibrant and exciting time in Kylie’s history. I wish I had pages of exclamation mark-drenched scribblings to share with you about what I’m sure was a hugely enjoyable show, but for some reason, between the 11th of February and 25 of March 2001, there are no entries in my diary. Despite being an obsessive diary writer I do go through phases like this sometimes, and this was by no means the longest. But to miss out writing about something so thrilling as a Kylie gig – one that occurred on the eve of my 26th birthday, no less – is somewhat hard for me to fathom from the distance of eighteen years.

And not only did I fail to write an entry about this gig, I also didn’t even stick the ticket into its chronological place once I resumed writing diary entries. Instead, again inexplicably, I stuck it haphazardly into one of the back pages of the book along with the following few lines:

Somebody nicked my programme!!! (while I was down the front dancing like a lunatic)

Best PopStar in the universe, as usual.”

Not a lot to go on there, no.

This tour was to support Kylie’s seventh album “Light Years”, which saw a return to a glittery hook-drenched pop approach after spending the mid-90s experimenting with indie and harder dance sounds. Although I missed the more personal lyrics and adventurous sounds of her previous album “Impossible Princess”, I quickly fell under the spell of this new Kylie. From my diary on the day I bought “Light Years”:

” ‘Take me to the popstars on the moon’. Could there be greater words ever spoken in the English Language?? “Light Years” is the sound of sitting upon the veranda in the sultry near-midnight clutching a Singapore Sling while the crickets chirp in some colonial outpost. Interspersed with lengthy sessions of serious abandon at the nearest 70s discoteque.”

So what do I actually remember about the gig? Somebody did indeed nick my programme. As soon as Kylie took the stage to “Loveboat”, one of my favourites from the recent album, there was a mass surge of people from their seats towards the front, and I of course was not going to stay back in row S if I had the chance to boogie down the front. So I left my jacket and programme on my seat and raced to the front. Why I didn’t take them with me is another mystery, because of course, my programme was stolen, but I guess my need to dance unencumbered felt worth the risk at the time. And at least the thief left me with my jacket.

Aside from that, this gig is pretty much a blur. So my only recourse is to watch the DVD of this show and see if it sparks any memories. Kylie’s 2001 tour was immortalised on the “Kylie Live in Sydney” DVD, recorded in May of that year at the close of the tour. Watching this show, it’s very clear that Kylie had one message to get across: that the dark moodiness of Indie Kylie was gone, and it was time to dance. Opening with a beach party vibe as sailors dance camply about and Kylie descends from above upon a giant anchor, she confidently strides through two recent album tracks before giving notice to any hits – a clear statement that the Kylie of NOW is what matters – so much so that not a single track is played from the previous album “Impossible Princess”.

I know I had a great time at this show, and it’s easy to see why, watching the DVD. “Hand On Your Heart” is euphoric, and a medley of other early hits which concludes with “Celebration” genuinely does feel celebratory, however naff that particular song is outside of the live setting.

One memory that does spring back on watching this DVD is hearing “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” for the first time. I know I was impressed at the time, both with the song and the fact that she was performing new music only a few months after releasing an album. It’s an odd experience watching her performance of this song on the DVD, and seeing relative indifference from the crowd at this unknown song which would soon be drilled into the minds, bodies and souls of everyone, everywhere, forever.

I do also have some flashes of memory at Kylie’s performance of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”. At the time it seemed like an apt and fun song for her to cover , but watching the performance now, with her scantily clad female dancers performing an erotic pole dance in sexy underwear around her, it does not feel very empowering – especially considering the original video of the song was a subversion of this very male-gazey trope.

The show ends with the futuristic electro of the title track to “Light Years”, with Kylie and her dancers engaging in some robotic moves which, in hindsight, point very strongly towards the direction of her next album “Fever”. And while I did enjoy the camp fun and cocktail-drenched sunny euphoria of the “Light Years” tunes, the spiky, icy cool of “Fever” turned out to be much more my cup of tea.

Which makes it all the more sad for me to reflect on the fact that this gig was my last Kylie gig for 17 years. I dearly wish that I’d made the trip out to see her “Fever” show, but by the time that tour came around, I had just come to the end of some wearying medical treatment – which I’ll talk about more in my next few posts – and did not feel up to the crowds and the noise of an arena show. And after that, I was in my 30s, and striding out to storming pop gigs was no longer a priority.

Happily for me, last year I went some way towards making up for all the foolish years of ignoring the live Kylie experience, and had an amazing time in the Golden Circle at the Golden tour. And if the rumours are true that her current spree of summer hits shows is going to develop into a full blown tour later in the year, you’ll see me down the front at the O2 once again for sure.

But sadly, all I have to remember “On A Night Like This” by is a stolen programme, and a few moments of recollection sparked by the DVD. I’ll never truly recall what kind of night it really was.

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