Kylie Minogue live at NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom: Come into her world

When I spoke to Kylie Minogue earlier this year about her upcoming US tour—the first in her 20-year career—she warned her usual arena-size stage show would have to be scaled down to fit the smaller venues she’d be playing over here. But she also made a promise: “There’ll still be the razzle-dazzle, don’t you worry. It’s not going to be me with a banjo.”

She wasn’t kidding.

Last night’s show at NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom was a two-hour post-disco fantasia of strobe, bass, and glitter—an all-out spectacle worthy of her American fans’ pent-up adoration. Barreling through her sizable songbook, Kylie stepped into a cast of personae—a wind-up space princess, a stomping glam rocker, a pouting screen siren—each with its own over-the-top costume and set decor. Seven jumbo screens pulsed background images for each number. Hits old (“Better the Devil You Know”), new (“Wow”), and soon-to-be (the upcoming single “Better Than Today”) whipped the audience into a sustained frenzy, while rose petals and confetti showered the stage at key moments.

But despite the glitz, this was no exercise in Spears-ian auto-pilot pop. The size of the venue demanded audience interaction, and Kylie happily chatted with the crowd throughout, taking requests for songs and dance moves from audience members who had queued up as early as 2am that morning to be front and center for the show. She lavished attention on her band, including a three piece horn section and two unfeasibly gorgeous backup singers. Fan-favorite ballads like “Confide in Me” and a stripped-down “I Believe in You” became a showcase her voice, a surprisingly solid soprano that usually gets glazed under thick layers of processing on her recordings.

And one thing was clear from the get-go: Minogue knows exactly whom she’s singing for. The opening number began with a brief instrumental medley of tunes from West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, and The Sound of Music, and then segued into the lesser-known 2000 album track “Light Years,” at which point the singer, dressed in a Mars Attack- style minidress and feather wrap, was lowered onto the stage atop a giant, metallic skull. The crowd—some still wearing pins from that morning’s National Equality March in Washington, DC—roared their approval, a warm NYC welcome twenty years in the making. It would be a shame to make them wait that long again.

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Norah Jones’ ‘Chasing Pirates’: Hear it here
Lady Gaga gets serious for gay rights, covers Lennon’s “Imagine”
Michael Jackson’s new single, ‘This Is It’: Stream it here

Stephen Gately: Why the Boyzone singer’s death is the biggest story in the UK
Janelle Monae, ‘Come Alive (The War of the Roses)’: Stream it here

Comments (21 total) Add your comment
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  • B

    For the record, I would go to see Kylie playing a banjo.

    From what European friends have said, the Kylie crowd overseas is much more of a mixture of people, whereas her US audience is mostly comprised of gay men. And me, I guess.

  • NikT

    I saw Kylie’s show in Las Vegas last week, WOW! WOW! WOW! She packed so much into her show, it was worth the wait. It was an amazing show. I love as a pop singer she actually does sing live, talk to the audience and allows for impromptu moments. Like throwing out a song acapella. Congrats on a successful U.S. tour.
    Word is in Las Vegas they asked her to come back and extend her stay there. Can’t wait to see if she does that.

  • Erik

    I saw the opening night of her tour in Oakland and it was amazing! My friends in London are jealous that us Americans can be right up next to the stage. It was certainly worth the wait to get to see her in such an intimate setting. Come back soon Kylie! And yes I’m a gay man, shocking I know.

  • eric hufford

    Light Years is the title track from her 2000 album not a 1994 hit FYI

    • Adam Markovitz

      Sorry, that was a typo from a previous draft. Thanks for catching it!

      • Javi

        To Joe, Vicky, Val, and Alina,I enjoyed dinreag your book and it opened my eyes to a very unique lifestyle. You have a beautiful family. You all are sincere in your faith, thoughtful and possess character and integrity. I myself could never share a man it seems like it is always the woman that has to do the spiritual growing. Jealousy is one emotion I can never get used to. Men never ever want to share their women no matter the number.I respect that you have never taken government assistance to pick up the tab for all your kids. But my concern is that of the problem of overpopulation because I think there are families both monagamous and polygymous that have kids that they cannot suport so depend on the government and the taxpayer to pay the cost. I know that the FLDS depends on government support. I do not know if the planet can support unlimited population growth. China had to enact a law of one child per family because the population growth just got out of hand. I really believe in the idea of birth control and population control. The earth has limited resources. So this is an aspect of polygamy that distrubs me. Otherwise, I know that you are raising ethical, intelligent and productive kids who will make a postitivbe contribution to society.Sincerely,Erika

  • Diego

    Im glad that reviewer didnt know Light Years was a single from 2000 which shows he was not a fan previously and yet he enjoyed the show! Great Review i hope she comes to miami!

  • Jackie

    Wow – sounds like Kylie’s shows have gotten bigger since I saw her in 1990!
    Would love to see her again though.

  • Derek

    I was at the Hammerstein last night. It was a truly amazing performance and night. What Adam failed to mention is that there were several points where she had to stop the show because the crowd as cheering so much, we were louder than her. She was truly humbled by the adoration.

  • Faith

    Absolutely stunning show, she was so comfortable on stage and so gracious to her fans that i would take tomorrow off work and go see her again. Well worth the time & money spent. Been a fan since Neighbours when people thought that the bubble gum songstress would never see success past the end of that decade. How wrong they were!

  • Cliff

    I’ve been a fan since Locomotion and a few hits ring in my ears. By 2008, I knew she was touring. I tried in vain to get tickets in London and Frankfurt to no avail(I don’t trust scalpers). I googled Sydm\ney under assumption she’s head back to home turf and managed a Dec 14, 2008 ticket. I flew down and was blown away(after having seen George Michael and Madonna previously). Her Toronto concert, less than a year later was completely different in theme, costume and sets. Fantastic concerts!! The best I’ve seen.”Wow wow wow WOOOWW!!!”

  • TJinCNJ

    I saw her last night at Hammerstein, she did an accapella version of ‘your disco needs you’. Just amazing! I’m so glad she finally got to New York, I’ve been a fan for 20 years!

  • Jim

    Saw her at the Hollywood was tremendous ! I would go again in a second ! hope she gets a Vegas residency ! The Audience LOVED her

  • Thad

    Great show! great small venue. Could have watched for three hours easily

  • Cristian

    Incredible show. Saw it here in SF…the second night out, and she had to stop at one point ’cause we were yelling our asses off. So happy to hear NYC gave her such a great reception. She’s put on the best show thus far this year, and blows Madonna out of the water imo—and I never thought anyone could put on a pop spectacle better than Madonna. Looks like I was wrong…Kylie…you kicked ass, please extend the tour…we’d do it all again for you in a millisecond. Much love from the West Coast!

  • Lucy

    I’ve been a fan of Kylie’s for 22 years since I was 7 years old and she was on Neighbours. Growing up in England, she was extremely popular. When my family moved to the US I was very upset that Kylie was not a huge success over here. Thank God for computers…I was able to follow her career and get her albums online. When I heard she was touring in North America I made it my mission to get tickets. I did and saw her at the Hammerstein on October 11th. It was well worth the wait, she was fantastic. Seeing her up close and personal was one of the best moments of my life. I hope she goes on tour again as I really want to see her perform in a big venue next time!

  • Tom

    It’s a shame that Kylie has never really broken though in the North American market. I saw her in Toronto on Friday. She was absolutely brilliant. I’ve seen a number of her concert videos on DVD from Europe and Australia, and I knew she would be good, but didn’t expect the show to be such an exhilarating experience, on the level of Madonna (and btw, Kylie is a much better live vocalist than Madonna). Her show was fun and campy without being cheesy; warm and friendly without being sappy, and you can see how hard Kylie works to win over her fans, even though she really doesn’t have to because she has great stage presence. I admire her for doing this show for her fans and charging reasonable prices (unlike the $400 top price Madge charges…)

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