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Monday, May 9, 2011

Kylie and the Amazing Technicolor Gay Megachurch

Does it get any gayer?
I've been to the Robyn concert. I've been to the Lady Gaga show. I've even seen Madonna. In other words, I've seen some gay stuff in my day. But dear Jesus, the Kylie Minogue concert at the Fox Theatre was the gayest thing I've ever witnessed. In my life. Minogue rarely tours America, so two decades worth of anticipation has been building for the Australian singer's first Atlanta show. But the crowd was reportedly only 80 percent full. You can't deny that Minogue knows her audience — aging gay men — but the over-the-top shtick comes off as desperate, especially when she can't sell out the Fox. Tours with Colosseum sets and showgirl outfits, like hers, make it seem like Minogue's one badly selling album away from a Las Vegas review. But who cares? I hear Vegas pays astronomically.

The 43-year-old pop singer has been making music for more than two decades, but remains largely unknown in America despite her omnipresent 2001 hit "Can't Get You Out of My Head." (Remember it? Let me remind you: "La la la, la la la la la"). Kylie's created some great music: Her 2001 Fever album was that rare pop culmination of perfect beats, visual references and timing, and she masterfully combined Windows 3.0 bleeps with sultry vocals in her hit "Slow." But after 2007's X didn't chart in the States and following her battle with breast cancer, it seemed Minogue wanted to go back to what's tried and true: mindless gay disco. Her latest album, Aphrodite, also the name of the tour, is fun but forgettable. And therein lies Minogue's problem.

Minogue's cemented her reputation as a gay icon on par with Madonna, but she is nothing like Madonna. Madonna makes statements. Madonna has a dark side. Minogue is pure, one-dimensional euphoric dance. You'll never see Minogue make a statement about feminism, sexuality or politics the way Madonna does. Even after going through her life-changing battle with breast cancer, Minogue went straight back to lovey dance ditties. A lot of fans find her noncontroversial status as classy, but in her stage show, with allusions as wide ranging as Greek mythology and synchronized swimming, the lack of any discernible concept means the show makes no sense.

Eddie Long wishes this angel would fly at his sermons
For the Aphrodite Tour, Minogue created a megachurch of homosexuality. This is what Bishop Eddie Long wishes his sermons would be like — or maybe they are? Kylie performed two hours worth of high-energy dancing and high-pitched singing, with a little faux-soulfulness thrown in that was so artificial it was cute. The expensive-looking set was a pantheon-like structure with video screen panels between the columns. A backing band and two backup singers accompanied Minogue, as well as a hoard of beefcake male dancers. No swimmer-like bodies here. Wild costume changes, videos of Speedo-ed men gyrating (including a montage of her model lover Andres Segura) and movable sets were all fun to watch, but the performance was never elevated above eye candy.

Minogue is very cute and does not come off like a cold-hearted diva (a la Madonna): She fake-giggled like a little girl and profusely thanked her band. She did a lounge cover of "Slow" with full-on burlesque feathers and mashed up "Love at First Sight" for mashup's sake. Minogue took a request, playing her first hit, a cover of "The Loco-Motion." It was fun and nostalgic, and the show ended with a giant burst of glitter confetti. "You're wondering why it took me so long!" Kylie said of finally coming to Atlanta in her darling Australian accent. Well wonder no more: With extravagant scenery and an expensive production, it's clear gay Rome wasn't built in a day. But maybe a Kylie megachurch is in fact her concept: There's been so much suffering in this world, and in her breasts, let's dance with hot male dancers and forget about it all!

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