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Album: Kylie Minogue, Aphrodite Les Folies [Live In London] (Parlophone) (4/5)


Now is the season, it seems, of live-album stocking-fillers, the most flamboyant of which – and, it must be noted, the most winsome filler of those stockings – is this 2-CD/DVD package of Kylie's Aphrodite Les Folies stage show, recorded at the O2 Arena.

You can certainly see where your ticket money has been spent, and sadly it's not on the music so much as the staging, with the introductory palaver of smoke and mirrors and corps de dance designed to flaunt the sheer grandiosity of its Parthenon set even before Kylie herself appears, reclining on a giant clamshell. The wispy silken tunics worn by she and her dancers emphasise the "classical" theme, though as the punchy opener "Aphrodite" segues via a brief harp entracte into "The One", it seems odd that the audience should get so excited by such languorously inactive dance steps – more a slight wafting of arms and legs than actual dancing, designed presumably to allow her to actually sing rather than rely on miming like many of her peers.

Indeed, her vocals are the undoubted musical highlight of the show, as she negotiates the falsetto leaps of songs like "I Believe in You" and Annie Lennox's "There Must be an Angel" with impressive, almost effortless smoothness. I recall seeing Michael Jackson at Wembley Stadium years ago, and being disappointed that the physicality of his performance prevented him from singing some of his more demanding lines, which were clearly being doubled by a (female) backing singer. Not so here: the routines are kept easy enough for Kylie to cope with her primary duties as a singer.

Not just easy, but in most cases a cakewalk, as Kylie spends large parts of the show being toted around: on a pink-silk-farting golden Pegasus for "Illusion", riding a chariot pulled by four gimp slaves for "I Believe in You", and most spectacularly of all, riding a black angel out over the audience for "Closer". It's all quite good fun, though after a while the classical theme starts to run out of steam. I don't mind camp Spartans being ogled by Kylie and her singers during "Wow", or the mild BDSM undertones of the staging – actually, more like, strewth-that-bloke's-got-no-strides-on staging – but ultimately there's only so much mileage to be had from ersatz Greek dancing and Roman orgies.

This is acknowledged fairly early on, when Kylie ditches the Greek robe, reappearing in top hat and black crinoline for a few numbers including "Spinning Around", before switching to a diaphanous dress amidst feather-wielding Busby Berkeley babes to match the sleazy jazz ambience of "Slow", then a crumpled baco-foil dress for "Can't Get You Out of My Mind", which surprisingly chugs along with a tankful of repressed rock spirit rather than its usual disco slickness. A few changes later, the hot pants are out for "Better The Devil You Know" before the show climaxes with a ridiculous bathing-beauty fountain finale whose obvious dangers must have tested health & safety to its limits.

DOWNLOAD THIS Can't Get You Out of My Head; Looking for an Angel; I Believe in You; Illusion