What is the concert experience? It should provide impressive music, either familiar songs
that go beyond the studio version or new songs you won't hear elsewhere. It should also provide some spectacle, the "show" in "showmanship," often with dancing, costuming, or both. So what happens when Kylie Minogue -- the pop princess who makes the closest we have to disco today -- goes on tour? Aphrodite Les Folies [Live in London] is a dvd-cd set from Kylie's 2011 concert tour.

In the behind-the-scenes feature, Kylie describes the tour as "the synchronicity of music, performance, and visuals, of songs and spectacle." She certainly has the visuals and spectacle down pat: The singer emerges as the goddess Aphrodite in an ancient Greek setting; she rides a golden chariot dragged by several muscular men (her shows provide lots of male skin, as a reward to her female and gay male fans); there's the shiniest dress I've ever seen (shown in the video, below); and there's the inevitable flying angel during "Looking for an Angel" and her cover of the Eurythmics' "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)." Aphrodite Les Folies [Live in London] certainly provides an impressive visual experience.

But what about the music? While Kylie's music is something of a guilty pleasure, Aphrodite Les Folies [Live in London] is a remarkably standard-sounding concert. While a few of the sounds are given new life live -- the electric guitar-driven rock version of "Can't Get You out of My Head," the jazzy torch song treatment given to "Slow" -- most of the songs here sound almost identical to the album versions. Also, virtually all the songs here are from Kylie's album Aphrodite or the two prior albums (X and Body Language), so fans of her "classic" hits will find few of them performed here. The music cd becomes almost irrelevant here.

One of the most striking moments on Aphrodite Les Folies [Live in London] comes near the end, as Kylie Minogue performs a slow ballad ("If You Don't Love Me") and a dance number ("Better the Devil You Know") when it's just her -- no giant props, no backup dancers, no light shows or flying performers -- and it sounds terrific. Aphrodite Les Folies [Live in London] is quite a visual treat, but I would think for a musician the music should come first -- and here, the live songs sound too similar to the album versions. Kylie Minogue's music has always been (at its best) fun fluff, but it should still sound better live.

Overall grade: C

Reviewed by James Lynch

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