Pop princess Kylie Minogue celebrated her 30th birthday doing what she does best - whipping her fans into a funky frenzy at a special secret warm-up gig before embarking on her sell-out tour of Australia. The concert, which turned out to be not-so-secret once Melbourne radio stations got a whiff of what was going on, was held at Melbourne's Mercury Lounge on Kylie's birthday, May 28. After a private birthday dinner with her parents, Kylie took to the stage in red knickerbockers and performed nine songs for a raptured crowd of 800.Many family, friends and music industry colleagues watched, but inexpensive tickets had gone on sale and were snapped up by eager fans.
Playing live in front of her home-town crowd. Kylie's patent stilettos were working overtime as she strutted up and down the Mercury Lounge stage. The audience went wild, especially for her classic dance hit Better The Devil You Know and a cover version of The Clash hit Should I Stay Or Should I Go. The venue is co-owned by Kylie's long-time boss, Mushroom Records chief Michael Gudinski. He threw an informal, intimate party for Kylie after her birthday show in the Mercury's Spy Bar - a favourite Melbourne haunt for musicians and celebrities.
Among the guests were Molly Meldrum, who gave the birthday girl a fond hug, while others brought birthday gifts - Michael Gudinski and his wife, Sue, gave Kylie a gorgeous red velvet handbag - and congratulated Kylie on her new show. Five nights later, Kylie kicked off her concert tour for real at Melbourne's Palais Theatre. According to official tour photographer Campbell Knott, "The vibe was incredible. The audience were dancing in the aisles before the curtain was even raised."
And the adoring crowd wasn't alone - "She knows how to put on a sensational show." raved a reviewer in Melbourne's The Age, calling her "ultra-confident, ultra-sexy" and remaking on her "vocal flair". Critics also loved her new "indie-flavoured directions". "Everyone was just so relieved," Campbell says. "Kylie was stoked it had all gone so well." Since then, the pop princess's 30th birthday has only improved, with two sensational sell-out concerts under her belt. But she managed to find the time to speak exclusively to NW before the sound check of her third Melbourne concert...
NW: First of all, happy birthday, Kylie! KM: Thank you! I like the way my birthday has carried on for days and days.
NW: Are you happy with the show? KM: I'm ecstatic - it's everything and more I ever wished for. We've only done two shows so far, bt last night was unbelieveable! All of the band come off stage on a complete high.
NW: Did you ever think the response would be this positive? KM: I don't know if it was a case of me not daring to think what the response to the show would be. I had my head down working on it so much that I didn't really stop to think, you know, what would happen. But it's just exceeded all my expectations. Everyone has been blown away. We want to give more back, especially when you've got people who've camped overnight for tickets. I'm quite overwhelmed.
NW: The show's very glitzy and glam. How much input did you have? KM: I worked very closely with William Baker. He's one of my best friends and we've worked together for a number of years with him as a stylist. A couple of months ago in London we were doing lots of really dodgy sketches of how we wanted the stage to look, how we would section the show and what different feels each section would have. And once we arrived here, I was lucky enough to get Brian Thompson, who is a fantastic set designer, and Steve Swift as the lighting designer. Basically, we got all the best people so we were able to realise our sketches. I've been hands-on all the way.
NW: Do you prefer performing on this more intimate level? KM: It's absolutely brilliant. I can see all the faces of the lower part of the audience. I can see them up the back, too, and it's just such a thrill. We've got 22 shows to go and we know we'll just get better and maybe we'll introduce different things along the way as we'll be revisiting, particularly Sydney and Melbourne.
NW: How will you feel at the end of it all? KM: I don't know. I'll probably be exhausted by the end but I know I will be sad that it'll be over, for sure - because you're instantly a family when you're on tour. I'm very pleased that the mixture of Australian people on the show and the English people I brought over.
NW: You mentioned this has perhaps been the longest birthday in history, what was your best present? KM: I think I've had more flowers that I've ever had for any other event. Being with my family was fantastic. My family and friends posted incredible messages on the Internet and sang "Happy Birthday" at the stroke of midnight at our warm-up. My thanks go out to many people. But one of the best presents I got was a dragster bike from a friend of mine - just like the ones we all had when we were kids, you know?
NW: How are you going to take it back to London with you? KM: (laughing) I don't know!
NW: Why did you decide to do a gig on your birthday? KM: We had to do a warm-up gig anyway and the thought of putting together a birthday party was just stressing me. So, I said, "Let's do a gig - it'll be a whole lot easier." So that was great.
NW: Is the big 3-0 as scary as you thought? KM: No, I think it was made a lot easier because I had so much on my plate at the time. I didn't really have time to think about it. But it's an exciting time, I've had a smile on my face ever since. I did an interview today and the guy said, "Gee, you look so happy" and I said, "I know, I am." In true birthday-girl fashion, I will make the most of the opportunity and have another party once I'm back in London!
NW: Any "golden oldies" in your show? KM: I wanted to include everything. That's something I was adamant about in the beginning. I know that if someone came to see my show, the first question would be "Did she do I Should Be So Lucky?" And I do. I do it all!
NW: So you've done Cute Kylie, Sexy Kylie, Dance Kylie and Indie Kylie. Who's next? KM: Ooohh, I haven't thought about her! I'm sure I'll surprise myself. But we've managed to get them all in the show. It represents me as I am at the moment. You know, people are always asking, "Well, there's this Kylie, that Kylie and THAT Kylie - which one do you want to be?" and I have to keep saying, "Well, all of them." There was an article in The Age about William Baker (Kylie's stylist) and he was talking about the Cowgirl Kylie (from the show) and he said, "It's just one of her personas. She wears a cowboy hat around the house ... and a tiara. And other things." I'm just really happy to have a show that we can do all of those things in. Some parts are quite serious and some parts are very much musically led - where the music speaks for itself, there are no fancy lights, no nothing. Other parts are pure, high camp and others are a very big nod to my past.
NW: OK, a few silly questions to end with. What stories from your twenties will you be telling your grandkids? KM: I'll probably have forgotten most things and I'll be making it up by then!
NW: You're christening your first children, a twin boy and girl - what are they called? KM: Oooh ... that's in the too-hard category. I have no idea!
NW: When Jodie Foster wanted a father for her baby, she chose his IQ, height, looks and profession. Who would you choose? KM: Sean Connery.
NW: Nest time you go shopping, what's the one thing you MUST have? KM: Probably ANOTHER pair of shoes - which I don't need!
NW: I hear that the Spice Girls have a vacancy, would you take the job? KM: (laughs) No!
NW: Tell us one thing that nobody knows about Kylie. KM: Hmmm. Probably one of my measurements. Madame Tussaud's have them all because they just re-did me, and I learnt measurements I never knew existed on a person's anatomy!