Sydney Entertainment Centre, June 11

Kylie Minogue’s latest stage extravaganza arrived in Australia earlier in June after months of pre-tour hype. Talk of the show being a state-of-the-art aquatic spectacular meant many a Kylie fanatic had taken a financial hit shelling out the $400 a ticket to watch the show from the exclusive ‘Splash Zone’.

In truth, those expecting a two-hour watersports (ahem) spectacular might have felt an initial twinge of disappointment, with those advertised shimmering water jets saved until the final (spectacular) minutes of the show. But an ingenious looped catwalk stage design meant that, while Les Folies is far and away the biggest concert production of her career, in many ways it also feels like her most intimate.

It’s also her most overwhelmingly gay concert yet — a big call for an artist who memorably once distracted her audience during a costume change by having her male dancers take a shower on stage.

Many of the dancer costumes and screen projections for Les Folies seem to take their inspiration from vintage gay beefcake porn, with oiled-up dancers posing and flexing in little more than loincloths. And during gay-fave Cupid Boy, Kylie took the opportunity to show off her godlike Spanish boyfriend Andres Segura, with Segura pouting and showing off his washboard abs on screen throughout the song. Well done, Kylie.

The 25-song set leaned heavily on material from her past two albums — 11 of the 12 tracks from last year’s sublime Aphrodite got an airing (only the Jake Shears co-write, Too Much, was left out. Boo!). And in a live setting, it was all the more clear how unfortunate it is that so many of her singles underperform nowadays: 2008’s lost classic The One remains one of the towering giants of her back catalogue, while the addictive Better Than Today got the audience moving just as much as bigger hits like Love At First Sight and Spinning Around.

She still managed to squeeze in a few of her lovably naff early SAW hits though (even recreating her Rhythm Of Love-era look, all ’90s high hair and dangly earrings, for a barnstorming run through Better the Devil You Know), and introduced her first-ever single, Locomotion, with a knowing aside about the song appealing to those ‘of a certain age’.

And that’s what makes Kylie so great: more than perhaps any other arena-filling pop star, she seems entirely at home interacting with her audience. When she daggily congratulated a couple of front-row queers on their homemade outfits, telling them in her best Charlene from Neighbours drawl that they looked ‘fabulous’, she didn’t just make their night — she had an audience of thousands in the palm of her hand.

As she finished with a euphoric rendition of All The Lovers, elevated high above her dancers on a rotating circular stage as water jets soaked those lucky splash zoners (who’d all donned Kylie ponchos in preparation — bless), the overwhelming spectacle of it all made you wonder: where on earth can she go from here?

Perhaps the answer lies in one of the evening’s most electrifying moments, an acoustic cover of Prefab Sprout’s 1992 single If You Don’t Love Me. The strength and clarity of her voice — and the rapturous applause she received after virtually every line — suggested that, if the rumours are true and Minogue views this tour as the natural conclusion of her high-production pop shows, a more stripped-back future tour would be equally welcome.

info: Aphrodite: Les Folies plays Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on June 15 and 16, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on June 18 and Perth’s Burswood Dome on June 22. Tickets through Ticketek.

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