Image source, PA Media
By Colin Paterson
An emotional Kylie Minogue has played a triumphant greatest hits-packed set to close Radio 2 in the Park in Leicester.
"You're spectacular," she told the 35,000-strong crowd. "I am going to commit all of that to memory," she beamed at the end of her 65-minute, 15-song set.
This was the return of Radio 2's annual live event after an absence of four years, due to a combination of coronavirus and the cancellation of events around the death of Queen Elizabeth II last year.
The weekend in Leicester was the first time the festival had been expanded to two days and also the first time since the event started in 2011 it had been held outside London.
Kylie came on stage in a shimmery blue see-through PVC trouser suit, accompanied by an eight-person purple dance troupe, going straight into her hits Spinning Around, In Your Eyes and On A Night Like This.
"You're making me feel amazing," she told the crowd, before thanking Rick Astley, her old Stock Aitken Waterman label-mate, for wearing a t-shirt with her first album cover on it, during his set earlier in the day.
At 55, Kylie may be the exactly the same age as Radio 2 and is famously the only woman in UK chart history to have had number one albums in five consecutive decades, but even after all these years in the business, her sheer joy at performing was clear to see throughout this headlining set.
The show capped the end of quite a summer for Kylie. Padam Padam not only returned her to the UK top 10 for the first time in more than a decade, but the song became such a cultural touchstone that it now features in Hansard, the official report of all parliamentary debates, after it was mentioned by the Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle.
Here the audience was made to wait for her summer smash.
Kylie's new album Tension, which is released on Friday, was prominently featured, with a very enthusiastic reception for the title track, which is also her current single. There was also a live debut for the uplifting dance stomper Hold on to Now, which, perhaps to compensate for the lack of familiarity, was accompanied by huge confetti guns.
The last time Kylie Minogue headlined Radio 2's annual concert in 2018, she was joined on stage by Jason Donovan for a duet of Especially For You. It was revealed then that her former Neighbours co-star had simply cycled to Hyde Park to watch the show and had been persuaded to perform.
In Leicester, her special guest did not pack quite the same emotional punch, but prompted a lot more dancing. Jessie Ware, who had performed her own set earlier in the day, returned for a duet of Kiss of Life, their 2021 collaboration.
The career-spanning set even included an outing for her 1988 single The Loco-motion, which unfortunately took on a whole new meaning here.
Immediately before the beginning of Kylie's set, the crowd were told in an emergency announcement that no trains were running north or south from Leicester for the rest of the evening. East Midlands Railway explained that lightning had damaged multiple points equipment. Thousands of frustrated Kylie fans seeking to head home were left doing anything but the locomotion.
Then after a spirited, but very Robbie-free, version of Kids, Kylie left the stage and all went dark. After around a two-minute gap, the moment arrived that the crowd had been waiting for.
The rumbling, pulsing introduction to Padam Padam could be heard before Kylie re-emerged, having performed a startlingly quick costume change into red thigh-length boots, coupled with a one-shouldered red catsuit with matching red microphone and chiffon shawl.
Almost too quickly Padam Padam was over before there was truly time for a mass sing-along, but that would arrive with the next song. Kylie has been having hit singles for 35 years and it is shocking to realise that Can't Get You Out of My Head is now comfortably placed as having been released in the first half of her career. The "La la la" refrain still easily brought about the loudest audience involvement of the night.
A euphoric All The Lovers closed the set, before Kylie said goodnight while joyously twirling the chiffon shawl around her head.
Next up - Kylie's Las Vegas residency, which starts on 3 November at the Venetian Hotel. Perhaps this tight hour-long set could provide a strong indication as to what audiences will expect there, particularly with the inclusion of The Loco-motion, which is still her biggest US hit.
Other notable moments from Radio 2 Party in the Park over the weekend included James Blunt crowd-surfing all the way to the back of the crowd in an inflatable dingy, Hanson joining Busted on stage for a version of MMMBop and when Tears for Fears played the opening of Head Over Heals, the Donnie Darko obsessed teenage girl in front of me in the crowd bursting into tears of joy.
Kylie's Minogue's set will be shown on BBC 2 on Saturday at 22:05.