Kylie Minogue’s Oct 9 concert at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre was, in case you haven’t heard by now, quite the spectacle. Massive screens with incredible graphics, great dancers, life-size golden panthers, Kylie standing atop a giant skull in full diva regalia and a parade of worldwide hits — though, interestingly, not really many Canadian hits and certainly only a handful of US ones.
Kylie is the global pop princess who still confounds American ears. Her debut single, a 1988 cover of Goffin and King’s “Locomotion,” was a song that has hit the charts three times in the US (first by Little Eva in 1962, again by Grand Funk Railroad in 1974 and Kylie in 1988. Who will do it next?). That, coupled with 2002’s infectious “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” remain her lone big hits in America, therefore it’s no surprise that the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what happened in between those releases. What happened are some very, very good albums: 1994’s Kylie Minogue, 1997’s Impossible Princess and 2000’s Light Years remain among her greatest albums to date. America paid a bit more attention in 2002 for the Fever album, whose first single, the aforementioned “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” was (and is still) hailed as the “perfect pop song.” It was theorized in a book I highly recommend: Paul Morley’s Words and Music, a thrilling pop-culture journey and one of the best books on the subject of pop that I have ever read.
It was certainly a triumph to have 10,000 Canadians screaming for a diva singing songs that were never really hits in this country. Such is the appeal of the woman; she’s so damn loveable. For those who may think Kylie is cheese, they’re not looking close enough. Madonna is tackier by far; Janet’s past decade has been one long, stale orgasm; and Lady Gaga? She’s just having fun and doesn’t give a fuck (which, don’t get me wrong, is totally fine too). But Kylie and, back in the day, Annie Lennox, are the only ones who pulled it off with an ounce of class.
Kylie, more than any other pop diva, truly embraces her gay fans. At one point her current tour verges on soft-core gay porn; it’s fucking brilliant.
A frequent criticism of Kylie is that she can be a bit robotic, but at the Air Canada Centre Kylie was singing live, and man did it sound good. If her music can be called chilly, she exudes only warmth in a live setting, especially as she performed her encore “The One,” one of her best songs — and I’ll go out on a limb here, one of the best dance-pop songs of the past 10 years. Look a little closer and you’ll see a sweet Aussie girl from Melbourne underneath the robot armour. Her Toronto concert showed us in North America what the rest of the world has known for years: There is nothing wrong with being unashamedly pop. Perhaps that’s a recent discovery for the masses on this inward-looking continent.