Minogue, Kylie : Birmingham NEC

...by turns warmly familiar and breathtakingly adventurous...

Four days ago, Kylie Minogue split from her boyfriend of three years. Tonight, in front of 11,000 people, she belts her way through ‘The Crying Game’ as rose petals fall from the ceiling. Somehow she manages to hold it together. Just as well – if she loses it, we all will.

One day all concerts outside Camden will be like this: phenomenally staged, flawlessly performed and bursting with enough pop cultural references to make an Eminem video look like ‘The Antiques Roadshow’ – ‘A Clockwork Orange’, New Order, Andy Warhol, New York block parties, ‘Carry On Doctor’… even ‘The Locomotion’ is reborn as a ‘Rocky Horror’-style fuckathon. Kylie ‘s set list is by turns warmly familiar and breathtakingly adventurous – often, as with the trance version of ‘I Should Be So Lucky’, both at once – without the revisionist history that ruined Madonna‘s Drowned World tour. Madge also traded on big-budget theatrics, but Kylie recognises that set pieces are supposed to complement tunes, not disguise their absence.

“I’ve been around for a while now, and an amazing thing has happened to me,” gasps our host, as she explains to tonight’s younger audience members why their parents have dragged them along. She knows that pop acts rarely release a third album, let alone set career highs on their seventh. But she’s still here: Kylie defines pop.

Peter Robinson