NEW YORK — For Kylie Minogue, bigger isn’t always better.
The Aussie superstar — who the rest of the world is on a first-name basis with, a la Beyonce, Madonna and Cher — readily admits that she scales back her ambitious tours when she brings them to America.
When her “Les Folies” tour arrived at Hammerstein Ballroom for three nights starting Monday, the multimillion-dollar “Splash Zone,” an area with 30 water jets and elaborate rain curtains created by the same designers who built the world-famous water fountains in front of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, weren’t there. The aerialists didn’t make it, either.
This isn’t Minogue’s fault. It’s America’s. While she regularly sells out multiple nights in arenas around the world, in America, she’s still mainly known as that girl who redid “The Locomotion,” though that has been changing in recent years. Three singles from her recent “Aphrodite” (EMI/Parlophone) album topped the American dance charts last year.
“I’m bringing everything I can to do a great show,” Minogue said last week, in a teleconference from the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England, before her fourth sold-out show there. “I’m armed with a lot. Sadly, some things won’t be there, but I guarantee I’ll make up for it with my passion and emotion.”
She said the current tour, supporting “Aphrodite” and its hits “All the Lovers” and “Get Outta My Way,” is “a massive spectacle.”
“The stage is kind of mesmerizing — it’s so technically advanced and all that kind of stuff,” she said. “But I genuinely think that the best part is the emotion within the room. However we create that emotion doesn’t really matter, it’s that we get to it.”
The upbeat, dance-party vibe certainly won’t get lost in the translation. Minogue said the gay-friendly elements of “Les Folies” won’t change, either.
“In my life, that’s just the way it is — these are people I associate with,” she said. “This is what I believe is right. We just represent what feels appropriate for that song or that visual representation of the song. ... There might be someone in the audience who sees how we represent sexuality and who people are and who they want to be and that could have a profound effect on them. There might be someone’s nana in the audience who just thinks they’re lovely costumes. It just works on so many different levels.”
Minogue says that planning a concert this massive leads to “total anxiety, sleepless nights, and lots of excitement,” which takes its toll on her.
“The physical fatigue when you’re rehearsing is something you can understand — ‘I did too much of this action and this is why I hurt,’” she said. “The mental execution of the show before you really know what the show is is really difficult. With experience, at least now I can understand that process. It’s almost a cruel twist of fate that your opening night is the night that you get the most reviews. ... I try to stay calm, and then I realize I’m not going to be calm.”
Maybe that’s why Minogue is considering making her next project an “anti-tour.” “No dancers, no lights, there’s nothing, just music and doing songs that are much loved by super-fans but would never, ever, ever be heard anywhere in a live environment,” she said. “I’m talking about B-sides or songs that were never meant to see the light of day, songs that were leaked but turned out to be quite popular. Certain covers I’ve done. Covers I haven’t yet done. I think it would be really cool to be in a tiny, tiny venue, maybe to do like a week’s run somewhere and just strip everything back.”
Minogue — who said she’s been listening to a lot of Adele recently, “like the rest of the world” — is looking at recording some collaborations and other covers to keep fans happy while she works on the follow-up to “Aphrodite.”
“I feel like, as with all parts of my life, what I’m trying to do is find balance,” she said.
And her tours in America, where she looks forward to hitting roadside diners, certainly offer a nice balance to the madness that accompanies her tours elsewhere.
“I can walk around and not be recognized, which is kind of refreshing,” she said.
Kylie Minogue laughs at the difference between her American popularity and her popularity in the rest of the world. “There’s a group of supporters who have been with me for a long time,” she says of her American fans. “Sometimes it feels like we’re members of a secret society.”
With the success of her recent album “Aphrodite,” the secret finally may be getting out in America. But there are plenty of Kylie hits that many have missed out on. Here are some of the best:
“Better the Devil You Know” (1990) — With its grand orchestration and chugging Stock, Aitken and Waterman (yes, the Rick Astley people!) disco groove, “Devil” was the rest of the world’s introduction to grown-up Kylie. It reached No. 2 in England and deservedly became a club classic there.
“Where the Wild Roses Grow” (1995) — Minogue established herself as a serious artist with this duet with the great Nick Cave, a murderous ballad sung from both the victim’s point of view and the killer’s.
“Slow” (2003) — Though Minogue is known for her upbeat dance anthems, this Emiliana Torrini-written song is laid back and sensual, filled with dramatic pauses and a breathy delivery.
// Notes from the Road
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