Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour - Kylie Minogue
Some would say that Kylie Minogue's ever expanding tour budget is a clever rouse to disguise the lack of evolvement in her shiny brand of pop. Once keen to escape her air headed sparkly pop, she seems content these days to reveal nothing about the real Kylie and allow herself to be a blank canvas for a troupe of pop producers. Whist ... Aphrodite last year took her back to number 1 (her fifth UK number 1 album), the disinterest in the subsequent singles has shown a rare apathy to the golden girl of pop. She has never been an envelope pusher, even her Impossible Princess album could be accused of borrowing from the Brit pop scene that exploded in the mid 90's, her strength has nearly always been the perfect presentation of her releases. At 42, she remains a beauty, and there is certainly no disputing the fact that the songs are as perfectly performed as they could be from somebody once cited the singing budgie.
On the back of the Aphrodite album, Kylie once again embarked on a large scale tour of Europe (and subsequently America and Australia later this year). Ending up in Glasgow on the 28th, 29th and 30th March, tickets were priced at the rather inflated song of £65 (£200 if you wanted to get soaked in the splash zone). Borrowing images from the famous era of Aphrodite (clearly where the album title comes from) Kylie was hoisted onto the stage upon a giant golden clam to roars of approval from an ever enduring and adoring audience. The title track, followed by a couple of songs from previous album X, saw an understated but well received entrance that saw Kylie surrounded by hunky dancers, a duo of female backing singers who supported her beautifully, and a band that know Kylie's work like the back of their hand. Yes, Kylie Minogue is, and always has been, faithfully live.
As the show proceeded, more images from the Greek era of love provided a stunning backdrop amidst an overblown stage setting that consisted of a Pegasus, flying swans, acrobats, synchronised swimmers, a giant temple and an eventual explosion of water fountains that saw this escalated to the gayest, but most sensational concert show I've ever seen. Kylie Minogue didn't just top herself, she topped the barometer of pop concerts. Lady Gaga and Britney will have to wait 20 years before they might be inclined to top this. Madonna had better take note. Whilst not the strongest singer in a world full of octave-balancing diva's, Kylie is note perfect and sings every word live. A slight tendency on a couple of tracks to lean on the backing singers too heavily might be the only complaint regarding her singing.
Another complaint might be the reliance on Hi-NRG beats. Kylie has famously re-created many of her early songs as torch drama's, jazz numbers and re-invented dance numbers for her modern audience. The abandonment of her early material left the show without much in the way of irony. Perhaps that's how she intended it. The presence of only the classic Better The Devil You Know, and the oddly placed What Do I Have To Do were the only representation of her early days with Stock Aitken & Waterman. She did throw in a couple of verses of Locomotion, as an apparent impromptu, which raised the roof.
It was Kylie's current Aphrodite material that provided the backdrop to the show. Surprisingly, there were no unreleased ditty's thrown in for the fans, but the current singles and half a dozen other tracks from the album were ample enough to fill out half the show. Not content to give us the bare bones of her current fairly successful album, she also belted through a dozen other best of tracks from the past decade. A discofied Spinning Around got the feet moving and a rocked up Cant Get You Out Of My Head got the audience in a screaming frenzy. Head would not have been out of place at a rock concert, and borrowed heavily from Coldplays version that they performed in tribute to her at Glastonbury, but put among Kylie's camp setlist, it was utterly glamorous.
Possibly the best moments came with the surprises though. 'There Must Be An Angel' was given the Kylie treatment as she descended (from the air upon the back of a giant floating dancer dressed as a huge swan) onto a strategically placed rising stage in the middle of the arena. Kylie wouldn't try to emulate the brilliant Annie Lennox's voice, as that would be a task too difficult, but it was all the more superb for her own touches. Sat upon the the stairs alone towards the end of the show, she belted out a heartrending version of 'If You Don't Love Me'. A cover originally released on her Confide In Me single, she sang it accompanied only by a piano and gave a performance that wouldn't have been out of place in Les Miserables.
Elsewhere, Confide In Me, In My Arms, and an electrifying On A Night Like This provided suitable back up to the current material. Screen projections were beautifully unleashed in support of the many songs, but it was the water fountains that belted out in sync to the last two songs that really took the arena to a whole other level. Shooting from the catwalk into the audience, a few of those £200 paying guests would have left elated and wet. The final performance upon the mid-arena stage of All The Lovers saw her surrounded by a troupe of swimming dancers and wet acrobats to compliment the rotunda of water fountains that rose and splashed beneath her. It truly was like Aphrodite rising from the Greek fountain of love.
There were moments where the sound technicians didn't get it quite right. Kylie's voice occasionally fell below the volume of the band. Dare I say it was down to the technical aspect of things, as she was fully controlled in her singing, and her dancing even managed to impress in places. Other surprises included a jazzed down Slow which exploded midway into a huge electro dance number as Kylie and her dancers spun aboard a rising disc. This was just some of the spectacular images on display as she roared out 25 songs throughout the evening. The only low point for me was a nasally I Believe In Your as Kylie was pulled along the split catwalk upon a carriage by her dancers.
I still long for a stripped down live performance, of which she has proven she is capable of. Just check you tube out to see her recent acoustic performances on Radio 1 and 2 to see that she is a fully accomplished vocalist. You don't have to have Whitney Houston's voice to be called a singer, and what a shame that Kylie's tiny frame and her pixie like voice blind people to the fact that she has become an excellent trained vocalist. My last point to make is that if she IS charging upwards of £65 for a ticket, then I'm not disappointed by the fact that much of the money appears to have made its way onto the stage. Aphrodite Live truly was a sequel to Showgirl, and Kylie Minogue didn't disappoint.
I Believe In You
Get Out Of My Way
What Do I Have To Do
Everything Is Beautiful
Cant Get You Out Of My Head
Confide In Me
In My Arms
Looking For An Angel
There Must Be An Angel
Cant Beat The Feeling / Love At First Sight
If You Don't Love Me
Better The Devil You Know
Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel In Love)
On A Night Like This
All The Lovers
For those of you who missed the opportunity to see it, Sky1HD are airing the complete show on 19 June 2011. The show was filmed in 3D and there are rumours of a 3D blu-ray. I'll be pleased to see it again as there was much going on on the stage that I may have missed.
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Festivals in general
I was a rather late-starter when it came to festivals, and for the first couple I attended, I struggled to really enjoy myself. Perhaps I'm just a wuss, but the combination of mud, sore feet, dirt, lack of home comforts, and the unbelievably smelly loos, were all too distracting for me to relax and appreciate the music and atmosphere. ... But as I became a little more experienced and used to the routine, I began to have much more fun - and at the more recent festivals I've attended, I've had a fabulous time, especially at Glastonbury last year.
Along the way, I've assembled a mental list of practical tips which I've found help make festivals a more pleasant and comfortable experience. Being a bit of a fusspot, my friends take the mickey out of my close attention to loo rolls and wet wipes - while they're busy letting their hair down and getting into the action - but I do think a few simple touches are really worth it. So here's my checklist, which might just be useful if you're a first-time festival-goer this summer.
ARRIVAL / HOW MUCH TO TAKE
Securing a prime spot for your tent is a competitive business, and it seems that no matter how early you arrive, virtually everyone else has beaten you to it. So it's really worth getting there absolutely as early as possible, to give yourself the best chance of pitching reasonably close to the arena, or the car park, or ideally both. If you don't manage to achieve this, prepare yourself for a walk of up to several miles from where you park, or are dropped by the bus, to your final destination. That's why I try and pack the minimum amount I can get away with. You really don't need a great many changes of clothes - a top for each day, and something to keep you warm. It's tempting to take piles of booze and provisions (at Glastonbury, I saw one guy with a full scale barbecue, complete with gas cylinder) but assess first how keen you are you to carry them all the way to your tent: those crates of beer will seem less appealing with every yard of the journey. Some people use trolleys, wheelbarrows, or even dustbins; but in muddy conditions, wheels are very hard work.
There are two approaches to your choice of festival abode. Last year, I invested in a good quality, if slightly expensive, tent from Blacks. It was a bit pricey at £75 but is much more robust than cheaper tents I had previously - easier to set up, stronger, will last for ages, and has some nice features such as internal LEDs. So you can either splash out on a 'proper' tent which will serve you well for many festivals - or instead buy a very cheap one (B&Q and big Tescos sell them for about £15) and regard it as disposable. That means you won't have the hassle of packing it up and lugging it home again afterwards, but on the downside it will probably be less robust. If you plump for this option, how you choose to dispose of your tent afterwards is a matter for your conscience. Glastonbury, for example, have a proper facility for dumping your tent: it will then get recycled or re-used. If you don't bother to pull out all the pegs when you strike the tent, bear in mind that they can be very dangerous for the livestock who will return to the field once you're gone.
As ever with festival packing, the issue is comfort v space/weight. If you have the budget, it's worth getting a good quality sleeping bag which will compress down into very small parcel, but still keep you warm - and will be breathable, and therefore not too hot if the weather is mild. A foam carry-mat to go underneath your sleeping bag in the tent is also highly recommended, to make the ground that bit less bumpy. Mats are very light. I also like to take a pillow, which might sound a bit of an indulgence (and takes up a lot of room in your rucksack) but in my experience is definitely worth it - I sleep much more comfortably with something proper to rest my head on. Alternatively, you could get an inflatable one if you have enough puff to blow it up.
This is an often-overlooked area when it comes to Festival planning, but in my experience it's crucial: if your feet hurt by the end of a long-day, those ninety minute headline sets will become torture. It's easy to forget just how many miles you will walk during an average festival day, especially if (like me) you try and see as many acts as possible. People usually say - make sure you take wellies, but I'd argue they are not the best option. Wellies don't support your ankles and become very tiring to wear and walk around in after a few hours. Much better is a pair of proper walking boots, which are not only just as waterproof as wellies, but way more comfy and robust. If it's dry, a comfy pair of old trainers are best. Flip-flops are a poor choice. They might seem light and airy, but they're far too flimsy to support your feet over all those miles, and they chafe. After wearing mine for a whole day at Glastonbury, I was left with a painful, bloody weal across my right foot.
KEEPING WARM AND DRY
It can get pretty cold in the evenings, and maybe very cold in your tent overnight. And it can rain - a lot. The trick is to take something which will keep you warm but not be too heavy and eat up the space in your rucksack. A good option is a proper outdoors fleece/rain-jacket: a fleece layer for warmth along with a thin waterproof layer, plus hood. North Face, for example, do one which is combined - you can separate the layers if need be depending on the weather. You might also want to take a spare hoodie to sleep in.
You need a mobile with you at all times to stay in touch with your friends and arrange rendezvous points if you split up or lose each other. But your phone battery charge is at a premium - your tent won't have powerpoints! Some festivals have stands where you can pay to charge your phone, but there are usually queues, and it's insufferably boring to stand there, waiting, watching a battery charge up. So my trick is to leave my iPhone at home - partly because I don't want it stolen or broken, but also because smartphones are very battery-hungry. Instead, I take two of my old handsets, smaller phones which use the battery more efficiently. I charge them both fully beforehand, and then swap the simcard between them after the first battery dies. I also use a phone for all photos - it's annoying carrying a camera around all day, and it's a very easy thing to lose or have stolen.
HYGIENE / LOOS
By the second or third day of a festival, I begin to feel rather smelly. But I have to content myself with the knowledge that everyone is in the same boat, and hopefully noone will notice! You can virtually forget any idea of having a shower over the weekend. Even if there are facilities available, they will in all likelihood be so far from your tent that it's barely worth the hassle, especially as the queues will be ludicrously long. Instead, take plenty of wet wipes and cleanse yourself as best you can with those. I also take a bottle of shampoo and try and sneak one proper hair wash at a water point - the water is freezing, and you hold up the queue, but both factors are justified by how much fresher I feel afterwards. I always envy blokes, who can strip to the waist outside their tent and wash their top half with a water bottle. Trickier for girls, unless you're an exhibitionist.
Men are also obviously in a advantageous position when it comes to the notorious festival loo arrangements - the stuff of legend. To say the loos are not for the faint-hearted is putting it mildly. All you can do is be brave, hold your breath, be as quick as you can - and never, ever look down. If you do, the diabolical sight will stay with you forever. There's not much else I can advise. At Reading, I saw one woman, queueing for the loo, who'd inserted ropes of tissue up both her nostrils - presumably to protect herself from the smell. Don't know if it worked, but it was an odd image - made her look like a walrus!
When you set off from your tent for the day, always take with you a generous wodge of loo roll - some of which you can use for seat-cleaning - and an anti-bacterial hand-wash. According to urban myth, some people take take Immodium before a festival to minimise the number of loo visits they need. Never tried this myself, but doesn't sound very sensible to stop yourself up for four days - especially when you consider how much junk you'll be eating, which leads me to...
Stock up on nutrition beforehand, because you'll be lucky to find any at the majority of festivals, where there's little alternative to relying for sustenance on what you can forage from the take-away stalls. These vary in quality, although they'll always be quite expensive. At Reading or V, you'll rarely find much beyond burgers, but Glastonbury (and more 'alternative' festivals) have a much wider-range, including better vegetarian options. I've never figured out how you can really take any of your own food - it's heavy, and will spoil. I usually pack a box or two of cereal bars, which are light and will give you a bit of energy in the mornings. At some festivals, for example Reading, you can walk into town and buy proper food (and queue in a pub to use a proper loo) - but the time it takes for the round journey is off-putting.
- A torch - very handy indeed, and take spare batteries.
- Sanitary products. A must, even if you're not expecting to come on, at the time.
- Smokers: I find myself smoking loads during festivals - even more than usual, I'm afraid to say! Loads of stalls will sell cigarettes, rolling tobacco, and Rizlas, but if you're fussy, like me, or want to save a little money, you might want to stock up in advance. I take a good supply of my favourite tobacco, as it's not always available on site. Also, at Glastonbury, Marlboros are not on sale anywhere (presumably on ethical grounds, as if the other fag companies are very ethical!) so Marlboro-lovers should be prepared.
- Campsite. If you're going to chill out with your mates by your tents, it's nice to have camp chairs - the comfort of getting a sit-down is worth carrying them from the car. A lantern also makes things more cosy, as does a battery-powered speaker dock for an iPod, to give you some music.
- Painkillers (for hangovers) and a few elastoplasts are also worth packing.
Hope some of this is useful for first-time festivallers. Although I've been quite detailed here, it's important not to worry too much about this kind of stuff. Instead, just enjoy the buzz and the music, and have a fantastic time!
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I recently visited the Colston Hall in Bristol for a concert. The Colston Hall was built in 1867 but generally opened for more public performances in 1901 and therefore is older than many concert venues and holding around 1900 (slightly less or more depending on whether it is all seated or part standing, or around 2000 ... for classical concerts not sure why that is? ) thousand people it is relatively small.
**GETTING THERE AND PARKING**
Fairly simple. Bristol is accessible from most motorways, however when you come off the motorway you have to enter the centre of Bristol, but the hall is signposted quite well.
Parking is not available at the Colston apart from the odd road side space out the front. The best place to park is the Trenchard car park. This is a multi story opposite the hall and literally straight across the road at level one and costing only a few pounds for a few hours is ideal.
The only thing about the car park is that although signposted, blink and you will miss the turn, It does look like a small alley way to drive down. The car park can get busy at popular times/concerts and also bear in mind that during the day this is a car park often used by visitors to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the Children's Hospital.
On entering the Colston Hall you enter a new part of the building. The entrance is modern and simple in design, lots of glass and chrome. Inside the door to the right is a bistro where you can have a bite to eat before a show. For our concert in the lobby area was a stand for buying band memorabilia, opposite an information area staffed by hall representatives.
You immediately see a stairway in the centre leading up three levels and across to each side. On the left side are the entrances to the three tier levels of the concert hall itself and on the right are bars on level one and three. The bottom bar was very busy as you would expect prior to the show starting but if you make your way up to the third level there was hardly a queue at all. Here you will find a small selection of crisp and chocolate type snacks and various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, but it is fairly expensive whatever you decide to buy. Also on the third level situated by the bar is a small veranda outside where people can smoke and of course you can outside the main entrance too.
Toilets were on the ground floor and second floor I think. These were in the new build part and so were relatively up to date and modern, but although clean in most part, were a little lacking towards the end of the show. There was also some toilets in the old part of the building which are nearer if you wish to go in the middle of a show. These were also clean, perhaps cleaner to be honest as most people seemed to use the newer ones, but as in the old building were less accessible for disabled as quite small and steps.
**THE ARENA AREA**
As we entered across the corridor from the new build to the old our tickets were checked and we were shown to where our seats were situated. I was surprised at how compact the arena was and how step too, It is very much an old style venue in which I would expect to see a pantomime. On the ground was a standing area and then the seats graduate up the sides and back via concrete steep steps (so watch your step!) The sides have small little balcony seats which is quite quaint and in keeping with the original building style, it's nice that they have managed to preserve such areas.
The seating itself is basic, small chairs with fairly firm seats which are ok for a few hours but after that you do start getting a numb bum.
My seats were right at the top at in the very back row. I thought I would not get a very good view from here but I was pleasantly surprised, considering the venue is quite small you do get to see all that is going on right across the stage.
Sound - I can only comment on what I went to see.
The concert I went to see was heavy metal and this venue suited the sound to a tee. It was very loud and the sound seemed to vibrate through the entire arena especially the drums and bass guitar. Guitar was something of a specialty of the band I went to see and a guitar solo was performed to perfection and was not let down by the acoustics of the arena. I heard everything the band played very well including the singer, which in heavy metal can sometimes get drowned out by the instruments.
The only downside to this arena really I found is that as there is no air conditioning it does get very very hot. The are not many windows in the main hall and the ones that are there are high up so you don't really get the benefit of rotating air - take a mini fan!
I would defiantly recommend this arena for people to go to, it is somewhere a little more intimate than huge arenas, with a large a varied variety of music from metal to opera, blues, jazz and many different artistic abilities given shows too like paintings and performances of comedy etc.
The halls website is www.colstonhall.org and they have also gained the south west gold tourism of excellence award for 2010-2011
Maybe posted on dooyoo and ciao under same username
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