Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finally, the Showgirl Homecoming verdict.

Warning: somewhat obsessive and gushing post. Fans only.

My, ahem, Showgirl Homecoming ‘journey’ began when my sister messaged and casually mentioned that, as her friend was sick, she now had a spare ticket for the OPENING NIGHT OF THE RESUMED TOUR in Sydney. While I already had my Melbourne ticket, I would have been crazy NOT to fly up for a quick visit to Sydney in the middle of my thesis submission madness, while also spending the odd$140 on a ticket I already had. So I did.

The first show was being held in a mini, shitty little Sydney theatre that held about 10,000, so this was gonna be quite an intimate opening, and potentially much more exciting than the ACER arena gig on the following night. Moreover, there was a sense of excitement in the air as Kylie was back in town. More selfishly, I was gonna be among the FIRST to see the newly refreshed tour, and Kylie back in action.

As my sister and I marched up to the theatre, the expected signs of Kylie’s residence began to appear: pink feather boas, drag queens, packs of gay men, as well as your average mortgage-belt Australian. Inside, the atmosphere was ELECTRIC, with the crowd practically in tears and giving a standing ovation before she even got on stage. And when she did… there was this amazing moment when she rose up from beneath, with her pink cockatoo headdress, and just paused for about 30 seconds, teary, and surveying the crowd [I was relieved that in the second gig I saw this moment wasn’t repeated – it wasn’t part of the script]. At the end things got even more emotional as she talked about her wondering if she’d make it back onstage, and what it might feel like – this was when the tears poured out. But enough of my OBSESSIVE, projected emotion. Here’s my critique:

ACT 1: Homecoming

Except for the addition of new song White Diamond (replacing Giving You Up), the opening section was structurally the same as the original: same songs, same arrangements etc. The big changes included new costumes, less rigorous choreography, and new lighting and digital imagery. The most interesting shift (as compared to the old show) was the subtler use of the massive rear digital screen. Whereas in the original opening it displayed an explosion of colours and shapes (which often overwhelmed the tiny ACTUAL star), in the new version, it was only used once, when, in the final Act 1 number, it showed a curtain being lowered (as in v.1). The effect was softer and more subtle. Nice.

ACT 2: Everything Taboo

This was the new version of the ABSOLUTELY BLOODY AMAZING SmileyKylie medley from Showgirl v.1. Thankfully the mix was basically unchanged. The only noticeable substitutions were the new costumes, including Kylie’s ‘questionable’ Andy Warhol look (including wig). Still mercurial.

ACT 3: Samsara

This was the MASTERPIECE. Representing a big fuck-off to the Impossible Princess naysayers, the section included Too Far, Cowboy Style and Confide in Me, fused with ‘vaguely non-Western’ drumming and beats. The brilliance lay in the choreography and imagery. Against footage of warriors marching through deserts, and Kylie’s hand emerging from a pit of sand, and a naked flame, the act began with a lifeless Kylie being controlled by some kind of dance puppet-master; the act ended with Kylie smashing down the dancers who, before, had controlled her. The final moment had K chanting in some strange otherworldly fashion as gold confetti fell from the room. Fucking brilliant. But the audience was not impressed… where were the hits?

ACT 4: Athletica

The Body Language section, which kept the 50s gymnasium theme from v.1. Still making the best out of a bad Body Language situation, although this time, it was even MORE gay-themed and camp. Interesting intro, which featured Butterfly with footage of Kylie trapped inside boxes and restrained with ropes. This claustrophobic imagery kept recurring throughout… draw your own conclusions. Ended with Kids (yawn), and then it was intermission – rest up Kyles!

ACT 5: Dreams

This was basically unchanged: Kylie singing on crescent moon, moon descending, dancing with Romans, Cityscape etc… new mix of Dreams, and a new, and lovely, red dress. There was a lovely, unexpected 'moment' as one of the stage’s many mechanisms failed to function and Kylie was left stranded, and rotating, a meter or so off the stage… Befitting her pedigree, she handled this with the upmost dignity!

ACT 6: Pop Paradiso

I Should Be So Lucky, Locomotion etc. Wasn’t really a fan of this section originally (except for the AMAZING mix of Hand on Your Heart), and not really a fan now. Very questionable, Liza Minelli-esque costume. But then one amazing bit came in the intro, when they mashed Burning Up with Vogue, to which Kylie performed the rap, with dance moves. AMAZING – take that Mads! Now YOU'RE being casually referenced...

ACT 7: Dance of the Cybermen

This seemed like like the final, ultimate (and most decadent) reinterpretation of Can’t Get You out of My Head, sci-fi style. After having beat around the bush for the last few years, here, finally, it was mashed with the Dr. Who theme, while Metropolis robots marched around the stage. An inspired move was the inclusion of Turn It into Love… brilliant song, and the perfect context for it. The act as a whole was exemplary, if somewhat predictable for Baker-era Kylie.


This didn’t need to be changed at all, and it wasn’t. Consisting of an audience-karaoke version of Especially For You (Jason being tastefully dropped), and ending with Love at First Sight, while a slideshow of classic Kylie images was displayed onstage, it had, over the elapsed 18 months, come to take on a whole lot of meaning. There was weeping everywhere… no it’s not logical, but what can you do? And after a tearful farewell, that was it. Kylie escaped backstage and we all marched out into our comparatively dull, if perhaps more honest, lives.

There you have it [resumes non-gushing expression].


Bowling Ball said...

Oh, the verdict is three thumbs up.

Catherine said...

Guy, I've never read you write like this.

I like it.

PS. I don't understand Impossible Princess naysayers either.