Monday, 22 June 2015
Kylie Minogue @ BST Hyde Park
Forget All The Lovers, this was a day of all the Hits. That's Hits with a capital H. But you'd expect nothing less from a bill that includes Kylie, Chic and more.
There are exceptions to the rule though. It all began with newcomer Secaina Hudson, whose garage and house influenced beats were a little out of place so early on the main stage. Despite a slightly weak vocal, the dance rhythms packed a punch and her "refix" of Madonna and All Saints (Frozen Shores) provided some well known hooks.
Later there was Grace Jones. Whilst she may be a household name, her music is far from mainstream. But then, she probably doesn't give a sh*t what you think anyway. This was her own personal 'best of', bringing avant garde flair to an otherwise pop-tastic day. With more costume changes than Kylie, she emerged from backstage between each song in a new iconic headpiece, practically nude besides white tribal paint. For a 67 year old, she has the body of a goddess, sweaty nipples et al, singing whilst hula-hooping. Amazing. She's certainly a controversial and provocative figure, but that's why she has such a dedicated fanbase - even if her bizarre mix of gospel, soul, electro and rock styles didn't quite fit the theme of the day.
It was Years and Years who early on set the tone of the day. King is undoubtedly one of the biggest hits of the year; its tropical synths and anthemic melodies brought most of the audience to their feet. There's plenty more to this band though, with tracks like Desire, Take Shelter and current single Worship hitting all the right notes - forthcoming album 'Communion' is sure to be essential when it's released next month. Frontman Olly Alexander may not have the strongest live vocal, but he more than makes up for it with energy and boyish charm, though piano ballad Memo provided a beautiful moment of calm amongst the uptempo beats.
And so from Radio 1 to Radio 2, we then had Mika play...all the hits? Starting the set with Grace Kelly - his biggest track - may seem counterintuitive, but from there he played a whole string of forgotten hits like Love Today, Big Girl, Happy Ending and Relax (Take It Easy), even if these are all from his debut album. His brand of fluffy colourful pop may be forgettable a few years down the line, but he remains a vibrant live performer with a surprisingly powerful vocal and the enviable ability to effortlessly entertain a crowd.
If you're after hits though, Chic and Nile Rodgers have countless. Their two vocalists capably belted and riffed their way through a huge back catalogue of both Chic tracks and those written for other artists, whilst Rodgers himself jangled his way through them all on funk guitar. It's an instantly recognisable style, though after a lengthy set of extended tracks they do somewhat blur together as one. Yet few artists are capable of inducing such sexy grooves, and few frontmen are as cool as Rodgers. When the stage was filled with backstage crew and fans, it was merely an extension of the main audience, everyone coming together in dancing joy.
Yet most of the crowd were here to see Kylie, and the Queen of Pop (sorry Madonna) did not disappoint as she, fittingly, began her set wearing a crown. It set the tone for a camp, fun performance that was essentially one long party. She sure as hell knows how to put on a show, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with a whole load of hits coupled with visual spectacle - dance routines, bright costumes and a massive glitterball. What really struck, though, is her down to earth nature: she may be a superstar but she exudes warmth and affection, adoring her fans almost as much as they adore her.
Really, Kylie was all of the other acts put together: a performer with an extensive back catalogue of frothy pop hits, who values aesthetics as much as music and remains relevant to a young audience as much as her old school fans. You couldn't ask for a more appropriate headliner.