From singing soap star to cyberpunk diva and hot pants advocate, Kylie Minogue has glittered in many guises across her 30 year career. But a recent detour into Dolly Parton-style country pop may have had even hardcore Kylie devotees – of which there were a great many at her rescheduled Dublin show – scratching their heads.
It wasn't that she couldn't pull off the rhinestone boots and blue-jeans look she sported throughout this brisk and breezy concert. More that Kylie and the twanging melancholy synonymous with Old Timey country seemed fundamentally incompatible. Could the "Antipodean Pop Princess" – as is her official title – really reinvent herself as chronicler of Appalachian heartache?
Somehow she made this unlikely new direction work at a concert that doubled as celebratory hoedown. Future-shock smash Can't Get You Out Of Me Head was repurposed as ZZ Top-style rock out and material from this year’s Golden album blossomed under the spotlight like cacti in the desert.
Typical was Shelby ’68, which surfed a pop chorus while serving largely as an excuse for Minogue to lead her hoofers through a high-concept line-dance. She clearly loved every cheesy second – and her fans (curiously subdued for much of the evening) – appeared mostly won over too.
Kylie is both a gay icon and one of the last great Eighties pop stars not to become their own glorified tribute act. Looking back, it is a towering irony that she was initially dismissed as a puppet of producers Stock Aitken Waterman and derided for her musical talents.
She will, it is true, never be an Adele-level powerhouse. But Kylie is a magnetic performer with a star power that twinkled brightly in Dublin. There was some glancing over her shoulder, of course – a winking Better The Devil You Know and an appropriately dizzying Spinning Around.
In acknowledgment of the season, she also belted out an impromptu Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. Yet it was the new material in which Kylie was clearly most invested and she pleaded forcefully that, three decades in, the dead claws of the nostalgia industry still don't have her in their grip.