Glimpse into the life of one of Australia’s greatest pop artists
By Bradley Storer
Barely surviving in the sweltering heat, the spirits of the audience at fortyfivedownstairs were lifted as we were greeted by that perfect 80’s pop confection “I Should Be So Lucky”, which also provides the title for Lucky: Songs by Kylie as part of Midsumma Festival.
The show is bound together loosely by a slim narrative of Minogue’s life, beginning with her first collaboration with powerhouse pop composers Stock Aitken Waterman and writer/director Dean Bryant, which keeps the pace brisk and sparse. Songs are tied into key moments of Minogue’s career, her romance with Michael Hutchence and eventual diagnosis with breast cancer (interspersed with a few Craig McLachlan jokes that felt slightly too soon after last week’s allegations). A point is made of Minogue not being regarded warmly by Australian audiences at the beginning of her career, when she transitioned from soap starlet to massively successful musical artist, until she found success overseas – a reminder of how deep ‘tall poppy syndrome’ runs in Australian culture and how we still fail to embrace our local artists.
The main attraction here is the music, and under musical director James Simpson with his four piece band, the hits don’t stop coming. From her biggest hits, re-arranged much the same way Minogue herself has modified them throughout her lengthy career, to numbers less familiar (“Hand on Your Heart” was particularly poignant) the audience was bopping along and mouthing the lyrics joyfully. A medley of her dance anthems sped things along, but with her massive back-catalogue of familiar numbers it felt like a tease to only hear a few lines of each. Her best works – “Can’t Get You Out My Head”, “Better the Devil You Know”, and “Confide in Me” to name a few – were well represented.
Michael Griffith played Minogue herself, but in no way attempted to sound like, look like or imitate Kylie. Speaking as her, Griffith instead channeled the diva through the prism of his own mischievous charm, and his obvious joy and enthusiasm for singing Minogue’s music was incredibly infectious. His bright, clear singing tone suited the material perfectly and was supported by a bevy of backing vocals from the band.
A glimpse into the life of one of Australia’s greatest pop artists, and more importantly, an excuse to listen to some of the catchiest pop music ever written. Lucky: Songs by Kylie was the perfect Midsumma treat!
Lucky: Songs by Kylie ran until 21 January, 2018 for Midsumma Festival.