Kylie - Manchester MEN Arena - 23.1.06

On a night like this just over a week ago there were tears on my pillow. Many tears on many pillows read the headlines as Kylie was forced to cancel her show on Saturday 13th January due to illness and the headlines naturally questioned whether she was pushing herself too hard in light of her recent battle against cancer. What was initially a wave of recriminations from fans about whether she should have attempted to perform at last weeks show suddenly turned to elation when they realized that tonight's rescheduled gig was to be the last show of the entire Showgirl Tour.

Instantly as Kylie walks on stage tonight it was clear that she made the right decision to reschedule rather than carrying on regardless. Elegantly dressed in a head-dress she takes to rises to a standing ovation from the crowd who are simply pleased that she's here. Basking in the attention smiling and giggling for the best part of 5 minutes while the noise subdues it's clear that although this show is about the various ages of Kylie in a diva wrapping, Kylie is just like us at heart - a normal girl done good and that's why throughout the years she's turned into an almost Princess Diana like figure with the tabloids treading around her like the Holy Grail they built up, but out of sheer respect wont ever try to bring down.

As has become the tour opener it's "Better The Devil You Know" that starts off not just a concert but a spectacle of towering proportions. "I don't know if you can hear these down the front. They're very vocal, but i'd expect no less from Manchester. You've got a lot to live up for. The shows have all been brilliant...apart from the last time you were here" at which Kylie and the crowd with retrospect can now laugh in unison.

"Shocked" and "What Do I Have To Do" start the Nu-Rave part of the show and out Klaxons the Klaxons with a set full of Acid Smiley faces, day go t shirts and the sort of drug induced trip in wonderland.

Each section (or act) of the show has it's own theme with "Confide In Me", "Cowboy Style" and "Too Far featuring a desert Egyptian style backdrop while the likes of "Slow" and "Red Blooded Woman" feature half naked men writing around showers and gyms together. It's strangely asexual as Kylie always has been rather than the sort of thing you'd expect from Xtina. When lil sis Danni appears for "Kids" it's interesting to see that vocally Dannii is far the stronger of the two taking the dominate male role and it does make us wonder whether if Dannii had been given the right songs whether the Minogue hierarchy would be totally different today.

As well as those newer songs such as the Scissor Sisters penned "White Diamond" and "I Believe In You" and the hugely underrated "Chocolate", a song which you may remember was universally slated at the time, it's those unexpected elements such as the inclusion of "Vogue" at the end of "Burning Up", a section of the show which is a homage to Madonna's S&M sex period. "The Locomotion" on the other hand is pure Moulin Rouge before ending this part of the show with "I Should Be So Lucky" and "Hand On Your Heart", but sadly no "Got To Be Certain" as she'd sung semi-acoustic at the cancelled show the week previous.

With this being the final night of the tour it was always going to be special and with an finale which included "Cant Get You Out Of My head", "Especially For You and "Love At First Sight" it always was going to be, but with cries for Kylie and Dannii to team up for "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves" they happily obliged with an spur of the moment rendition of "Celebrate", not the song the audience had asked for, but one of those things that only an artist like Kylie would do.

"I will see all the crew and band again, but its hard to imagine this will be my last time on this stage" Kylie announces at the end of tonight's show before realizing what she's said and adding "Note I said this stage, not a stage, before you get the wrong idea".

Kylie's been part of most of our life's since we started school and is now like an extended member of the family that it's hard to imagine her never being around. With rumours that her next album is to include more collaborations with the Scissor Sisters and new producer and artist Just Jack it's hard to imagine her just settling into cabaret mode at the expense of new material. It will be interesting to see if Kylie finally takes a well earned break or whether we see that new material in 2007

Alex McCann

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