Kylie - Aphrodite Les Folies - Live in London (CD & DVD)
The scale is, erm, off the scale. Dumpy's Rusty Nuts at Chippenham Golddiggers it is not. As the leading lady herself says in the illuminating 'Just Add Water' documentary (an excellent 'making of' that charts the whole enterprise from germ of an idea through to dizzying first night), here's a show whose ambition and size carves itself a place in the upper echelons of the history of large scale pop tours. Some may have baulked at the ticket prices (£65 in the UK) but, with best West End seats priced similarly and with our other adopted pop queen, Her Royal Madgeness, typically charging two or three times more than that, the accompanying live DVD confirms what bursting arenas throughout Europe, Australia, the Far East and the US already knew: Aphrodite Les Folies is dazzling, jaw-dropping spectacle. And worth every penny - all 6500 of them. It's all here: the Greek mythology-inspired staging with its multiple rear-projection screens, a cast of dancers and acrobats who flick two fingers at physics and gravity, a 'Splash Zone' and walkway that extends the stage and its watery finale (Kylie re-imagined as an angelic Esther Williams) well into the arena floor, and a series of set-pieces (Kylie flies across the arena on the back of an angel, is pulled around the catwalk by slave boys on a golden chariot) as daft and camp as anything she and her artistic director William Baker ever devised.
And if it's value you want, look no further. For your tenner, you get the whole two hour extravaganza on two CDs as well as the entire show on DVD, filmed back in April at London's O2 Arena. With the staging taking precedence, the decision to follow through by basing the show for the first time around an entire album (2010's superior comeback Aphrodite) is brave but smart. If the odd new track isn't quite as essential as some of the more inarguable gems ('Confide In Me', 'What Do I Have To Do', a beefed-up 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'), no matter - there's usually something being set fire to or a couple of dozen circus performers swinging from the rafters to keep your attention. Applause, and lots of it, for the continuing madcap endeavour of the Minogue/Baker aesthetic. As ever, their over-the-top narratives and bonkers re-visualising of the back catalogue almost makes the CDs redundant.
It's a minor gripe but the live presentation doesn't quite capture that whole 'in-the-flesh' atmosphere and intensity. The extended intro should really convey fevered expectation and raucous build-up but, if you didn't know any better, you'd think the opening 'Birth Of Aphrodite' overture had been filmed in dress rehearsal. (A few shots of the crowd would have helped.) One's tempted to employ northern prejudice and suggest they should have filmed in, ooh, Manchester if they really wanted to capture the Minogue audience at their foot-stamping, ready-to-party best. Ah well - to be fair, it's probably the director, and not the paying public, who needs a slap. Filmed in seemingly de riguer high contrast, the dazzling stage lighting sits against a backdrop of impenetrable black. If you were there, probably best not to waste too much time looking for yourself. But, needless to say, if you were there, a visual record is worth but a fraction of the memories. Aphrodite Les Folies is unequivocal evidence, and an almost unnecessary reminder, that the planet's smartest, most truly pop, pop star is in fine (under appreciated, on this form) voice and very rude health.