It’s been 25 years since Kylie brought her Intimate & Live tour to the 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I was at one of those shows, stood about 4 people back and singing along to every song. Fast forward a quarter of a decade and I am ready to do it all again! This time I am joined by 1000+ competition winners and various media and VIPs (including Michelle Visage, Rylan and Graham Norton).
The stage is set with a large screen displaying a giant blue Kylie Tension banner and the crowd are buzzing with anticipation. As the band and dancers take to the stage and the opening bars of ‘Spinning Around’ begin as the screen fills with the yellow swirl seen at Radio 2 in Leicester recently. Kylie takes to the stage in a purple see-through PVC suit with solid black top and it quickly becomes clear she is feeling the love and perhaps a little hyper at it being ‘Tension’ release week. She is absolutely in her element as she eases through her 2000 No.1 hit and the crowd are in fine singing voice too.
Kylie recently headlined Radio 2 in the Park in Leicester and this is the basis of tonight’s hit-filled set. We are treated to the ‘Infinite Disco’ version of ‘In Your Eyes’, before ‘On A Night Like This’ cuts into ‘Wow’. Kylie is in a cheeky mood as she says knowingly in the former “Yes, it has been a lifetime”; a nod to the fact that us Lovers await this type of phrase.
As we get our first real pause of the night as Kylie takes a quick drink, the crowd seize the opportunity to show her all their love and appreciation and she looks genuinely overwhelmed as she beams from ear to ear, waiting for the adoration to stop…but it keeps going for a good few minutes. She even moves her mic so she can scream back to a fan ‘I love you too!’. She is definitely living her best life tonight, despite explaining that she has a bit of a sore throat coming on after talking about her new album ‘Tension’ all week. “It’s been a week of love and surprises,” she declares.
Speaking of the new album, Kylie introduces the title track and gives it her all with the choreography. It’s then time to slow it down with the ‘Infinite Disco’ mash up of her 2003 No.1 hit ‘Slow’ and Donna Summer’s ‘Love To Love You Baby’. A slinky, sexy number which just adds to the already building heat in the room.
Then, for the first surprise of the night, as Kylie informs us that she’s going to be singing a song from the new album for the first time live. It’s one of my faves – ‘Story’! I was nervous for her to see how she would cope with the high notes in the chorus but I needn’t have been – she nailed it, and made it look so easy! At the end of the song she gets emotional saying “I’m gonna cry now.” It doesn’t help one of her co-writers on the song is watching from the balcony. It clearly means alot to her as a song as she has alluded to in various interviews about the album. She then tells the crowd that she too was worried about that falsetto; “I really didn’t think about those high notes when we wrote it!” Before giving a little acapella replay of said high notes.
The pace is slowed with the anthemic ‘Say Something’ stripped back with just an acoustic guitar (courtesy of Luke from her band) as Kylie asksled fans to put their phone torches on for a galatic effect. Another surprise follows as Kylie tells us that in soundcheck they pulled ‘an old friend out of the bag’ and are going to play it now. I was pleased to hear she wasn’t stepping too far back in time, just to 2018 for the uplifting ‘Dancing’ which had fans clicking fingers, clapping hands and even foot stomping.
Kylie reminisced about playing the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 1998 for her Intimate & Live tour, working with Manic Street Preachers and Nick Cave and asks the audience who was at that gig. When several hands shoot up, she asks one fan “How have you been the last 25 years?”. It’s another sign of how relaxed and naturally charasmatic Kylie is tonight; these intimate venues really allow her personality to shine.
She then announces she is going to do a song from that late 90s era and enjoys leaving us hanging for a moment and I can’t be alone in thinking surely it can’t be ‘Some Kind of Bliss’?! She did after all get that in her Tik Tok video this week? She reveals it’s actually ‘Breathe’ complete with a nod to her giant sparkly K from that tour on the screen behind her. Such a beautiful song!
Next up is the euphoric new track ‘Holding On To Now’ which gets the crowd dancing once more and we don’t stop as ‘Love At First Sight’ follows. There are some obligatory train arm motions made throughout the venue as the Abbey Road version of ‘Loco-motion’ blares out to keep the energy on full.
Although many die hard fans would perhaps like to see ‘Kids’ retired from the next tour setlist, the crowd lap it up tonight. I guess it is Kylie’s version of a stadium rock song that definitely gets people clapping along and waving their arms. Sadly, there’s no special guest joining Kylie to perform the song tonight but her backing singers are more than capable of being her duet partners.
Kylie thanks the crowd before running off…but we all know there’s at least one more song to go. The screens go red as the eerie music fades in and the crowd surge forward in delight at what’s to come. It’s minor Padamonium! The crowd go wild as Kylie returns in a red catsuit with thigh high boots and a chiffon cape over the top. It’s a real highlight of the night with the crowd singing ‘Padam Padam’ in unison.
There’s no time for a come down as it’s swiftly followed by a quick ‘la,la,la’ and the audience are instantly chanting along – ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ is still that song that gives me goosebumps!
Finally, as the confetti cannons are moved into position, it’s time for the last song of the night, ‘All The Lovers”. Kylie is on a high and glad to have made it through with her throat intact. She described the night as ‘What a night! What a celebration’ and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Set list: 1. Spinning Around 2.In Your Eyes 3. On A Night Like This/Wow 4. Tension 5. Slow/Love To Love 6. Story 7. Say Something 8. Dancing 9. Breathe 10. Hold On To Now 11. Love At First Sight 12. Loco-motion 13. Kids Encore: 14. Padam Padam 15. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head 16. All The Lovers Performance date: 27th September 2023