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Music Review

Kylie Minogue: 'Live In New York'

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Kylie Minogue: 'Live In New York'
Released on Monday, Dec 14 2009

When Jay-Z headlined Glastonbury in 2008, indie kids and broadsheet journalists fell over each other to speculate just what it meant for the music fest. The truth? Not nearly as much as a set from Kylie Minogue would have. Kylie, of course, was forced to pull out of the 2005 event after being diagnosed with breast cancer, though she thankfully responded to treatment and got back on the road soon after. Despite the middling performance of so-so comeback album X in 2007, the pop princess went on her first ever US tour this year, with the dates including a show at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom on October 13. Of the 26 songs she played that night, all but one (newie 'Better Than Today' is excluded), have been captured for this download-only release.

The career-spanning tracklisting isn't a million miles away from that of 2007's Showgirl Homecoming Live album, which got a proper CD release, but it's easy to understand why the elder Minogue sister - and her newly-won American devotees - would want a document of her stateside trip. What's surprising, however, is just what a fantastic listen Live In New York is for the casual Kylie fan - despite its length and inevitable lulls over the runtime. Kicking off with a movie theme overture before slamming into 'Light Years', the record serves up hit after hit dripping with raw live energy until it reaches the breathless finale of 'Love At First Sight'. Producer and longtime collaborator Steve Anderson has resisted the urge to meddle too much with the recording, leaving the crowd pleasingly high in the mix and the vocals and backings competing for your attention as if you were in third-row centre.

Along with the effortless sass of Kylie's banter with the crowd ("You were first in line at 2am? You nutcase!"), what strikes you early on is the incredible pop literacy of Minogue and her team when putting the show together. Among other nods, 'Burning Up' is mashed together with Madonna's 'Vogue', 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' borrows from New Order's 'Blue Monday', and, best of all, the ravetastic mix of 'Spinning Around' in the 'Everything Taboo' medley cheekily pinches hooks from Ce Ce Peniston's 'Finally', Black Box's 'Ride On Time', Eminem's 'The Real Slim Shady' and more. With so much going on musically, it's no wonder that you rarely miss the visuals.

While she's never boasted the single-minded self-determination of Madonna or David Bowie, Live In New York shows that Kylie is far from a jagged pop culture mirror like Britney Spears, who's arguably used to reflect (and distort) the wants of her fans, critics and musical collaborators in her work. She's somewhere in between - and this indefinable nature has proved central to her lasting appeal. A section midway through this set, in which she slips from the Warp-esque 'Slow' through '2 Hearts' (featuring horns that would make Mark Ronson weep with envy) to 'Red Blooded Woman'/'Where The Wild Roses Grow' shows off her twisted charm in all its glory.

As Louis Walsh was so keen to point out on this year's X Factor, Kylie is certainly no Mariah Carey when it comes to vocal acrobatics. However, unlike some of Walsh's charges, she never misses a note and is second-to-none as a pop singer, injecting every syllable with sex, soul and style. On the big band overhaul of 'Locomotion', hotel bar jazz of 'I Should Be So Lucky' and 00s update of 'Shocked' she proves to any doubters that it was her magnetism as much as Stock, Aitken and Waterman's pop nous that won us over way back when. On this evidence, if Kylie's hooked up with the right people (and that's admittedly a big if), it'd be hard to bet against 2010 being the year of her triumphant studio return.

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