Kylie - Manchester M.E.N Arena - 1.5.02

As a camera swirls around the arena, picking out unsuspecting members of the audience and making them famous for five minutes, it reminds us that Kylie is just an ordinary girl with luck on her side. When our Charlene first came out of Neighbours the most hardened Kylie fan could not even have imagined that 15 years later she would be selling out one of the biggest arena tours of the year, and in this very venue's case breaking the record books for the most successful female act to play the M.E.N Arena. Through the lows of her career when others would have simply given up and faded away, Kylie simply saw it as a challenge and a signal to move on to pastures new. And after a dabble with Manic's endorsed indie rock she came back to what we all love best - bootylicious pop tunes like "Spinning Around" and "Can't Get You Outta My Head".

As the lights dim down the electro pulses start racing, the beats start pumping and the full on retro-futurama drama is revealed. Moving away from last years mix and match culture tour, which at times looked like a history lesson in the camp theatrical drama of the Pet Shop Boys, Kylie now currently inhabits a Sci-Fi world in perfect fitting with the launch of Attack Of The Clones in a few weeks. At times it really shines through that Kylie is a child of the 80s with a full on Visage (Ed: New Romantic 80s band for those too young to know any better) tribute going on throughout tonight's show, a Culture Club cover in the form of "The Crying Game" which then segues into a true Kylie heartbreaker with "Put Yourself In My Place". It's the one moment when Kylie simply elevates from the very worthy position Queen Of Pop and manages to carry the same emotional resonance as any Smiths, Radiohead or Leonard Cohen tracks you care to throw at it.

With Kylie its not just about the music, its about the whole package. Earlier today a tabloid newspaper carried out its own study and found that Kylie shakes her booty 255 times throughout the whole performance. True to form, trouper Kylie promises to raise the game to at least 300 times a night and you can imagine a time in the not too distant future when Madam Tussards simply decides to display a model of Kylie's arse. Now lets see if Gareth Gates puckers up to the camera for that one!!!

Avoiding simply retreading past glories much of tonight set is made up with current classics such as "Kids", "In Your Eyes", "On A Night Like This" and a somewhat lacklustre version of "Spinning Around". While we'd all love to hear the Stock, Aitken and Waterman originals Kylie reworks the old classics for each tour. "I Should Be So Lucky" is given the electro treatment with full on four to the floor beats, "Locomotion" sounds like the best track Prince never released and "Shocked" is given a 80s industrial workover. Thankfully with Steps out of the picture Kylie claims back "Better The Devil You Know" as her own and shows the young pups exactly how it was done back in the day  Closing with "Can't Get You Outta My Head", with a snippet of the New Order bootleg thrown in for good luck, it shows that Kylie is as relevant today as she ever was.. You can take you Britney's, Mariah's (and even Madonna's for that matter) and stick 'em where the sun don't shine. Kylie is still the Queen of Pop and for the foreseeable future there are no likely contenders for her to step down from the thrown just yet.

Alex McCann

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