Live: Kylie Minogue And The Crystal Skull At Hammerstein Ballroom
The enduring image from Kylie Minogue's first-ever concert in New York City -- which only took her "That long in decades," she admits sheepishly, flashing a peace sign -- is when she does the Running Man during a between-song break, for roughly a second and a half. Yes, this is the enduring image of a show that begins with Kylie descending from the ceiling atop an enormous crystal skull, wearing a skimpy, sparkly, geometrically confounding getup that reveals her to be roughly 85 percent legs, as eight behelmeted backup dancers dressed like Cobra Commander cavort beneath her.
Nope, still going with the Running Man. This image endures not because Kylie is super good at doing the Running Man, but because she isn't, actually: Goofy and ungraceful, she does the Running Man like the average guy at a wedding, or someone auditioning for The Office. During the song she'd just finished, "Spinning Around," she introduced each dancer by name (several costume changes since the Cobra Commander opening, of course) and let 'em bust a signature move, and when her own turn came, she did the thing where you lift one leg and pump it a few times. You have done this move at some point in your life, probably ironically. But Kylie does it very earnestly, sweetly, awkwardly.
The Running Man, I guess, is her alternate.
This is a rare moment of unvarnished cheesiness during a two hour show of heavily varnished, highly choreographed, visually stupendous, wildly entertaining cheesiness: a hedonistic Euro-disco bacchanal with a million-dollar wardrobe budget and an aura of giddy teenage froth that only occasionally veers into something more adult. ("Red Blooded Woman" -- whose thesis is "You'll never get to heaven if you're scared to get high" -- finds Kylie crawling all over the beefcake-male half of her backup-dancer crew as the giant screens behind her show footage of other beefy men, showering.) She's backed by a full band (with horns!) and clearly belting out those high notes, but even as pantomime, the mildly sleazy electro-stomp of "Like a Drug" or (personal favorite) "Wow" would be exhilarating for the visuals alone, an eye-overwhelming parade of crystal, neon, leather, and perfectly toned muscle.
She does all the hits, la-la-la'ing through the still-infectious "Can't Get You Out of My Head" surprisingly early on and even dusting off the "The Locomotion," redone as a kitschy torch-jazz ballad. Things only drag in the rare moments when she takes herself too seriously -- reclining in a floor-length Oscar-worthy dress on a fainting couch way more extravagant than the one on Mad Men (complete with solid-gold tiger) as she moans through the portentous ballad "Confide in Me" -- but generally this is a fizzy, garish, deliciously opulent affair. Kylie mostly just strides around and very slowly gyrates, leaving the taxing dance routines to her entourage; just a little bit of her Running Man goes a long way, and besides, you wouldn't want her voice to wobble as she purrs "I'm the one/Love me love me love me love me." You got it.