It was one of the most eagerly awaited comebacks in o pop. But Kylie Minogue's triumphant return was hanging in the balance yesterday after ill health forced her to end a concert in Manchester after an hour and cancel a further two shows.
The Australian singer only performed the first half of a show at the MEN arena on Saturday, telling fans that she had a cold. Then she cancelled concerts scheduled for tonight and Tuesday, also at the MEN.
Her promoters hope the Thursday and Friday shows will go ahead and that the cancelled shows can be rescheduled. It was not clear whether fans would be reimbursed for Saturday night's show.
A spokesman for the singer denied that the health scare was linked to Minogue's breast cancer, which caused her to postpone the original "Showgirl" tour in 2005.
She was ordered to rest after being diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection, her managers said, adding: "Doctors have insisted that she not perform in the immediate future."
Several members of her crew have caught the flu since arriving in the UK. In a statement on the MEN website, her managers said "the worst fears of the tour party were realised when the flu targeted Kylie."
Minogue, 38, launched the UK leg of her "Showgirl Homecoming" tour at Wembley Arena on New Year's Eve, in her first British appearance since her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. But on Saturday, she managed just eight songs before apologising to the audience and walking off stage.
Some fans feared that Minogue, who underwent surgery and eight months of chemotherapy, may be over-exerting herself. Since the start of her comeback tour in Sydney last November, she has resumed a gruelling schedule of back-to-back performances and public appearances, as well as launching a perfume and a new live album.
Writing on the Kyliemania online forum, one fan said: "I hope this is not the beginning of the end for our Kylie. Maybe the strain of the shows is finally taking its toll."
Dr Emma Pennery, a clinical expert at the charity Breastcancer Care, warned that cancer survivors are more susceptible to infection as their bodies recover from the impact of both the disease and its treatment. "When your body has been through that amount of trauma, your ability to fight off illness can be compromised, so straightforward flu might knock you off your feet.
"Some women who have been through breast cancer bounce back in weeks, but others say that even two years later their energy levels have not returned to normal," she said.
Audience members in Manchester said that Minogue seemed to lack energy from the start of the performance, taking several 10-minute breaks between songs.
One fan, Ed Roland, told Radio Five Live: "When Kylie came out, she looked tired, and you could tell from her facial expressions that she wasn't quite right."
After struggling through the first half, the singer told the audience that she could only manage one more tune. Upset, she said it was the first time in her career that she had been forced to stop in mid-concert.
A spokesman for Minogue, John Bills, said: "She didn't want to let anyone down. She wanted to try to get through the show, but had to cut it short."Reuse content