Kylie Minogue brings early festive cheer to the Royal Albert Hall – review 

Queen of Christmas: Kylie Minogue at the Royal Albert Hall 
Queen of Christmas: Kylie Minogue at the Royal Albert Hall  Credit: Getty Images

For the second year running, Kylie Minogue took over the Royal Albert Hall for a seasonal extravaganza. She did not stint on the stuffing. There was a neon Christmas tree, flurries of fake snow, a cascade of balloons, giant glitterballs and santa hat on every seat to turn the august venue into a winter wonderland. The stage was crowded with around 100 musicians, including a full orchestra, choir and Minogue’s usual pop band.

She did not hold back on the cheesecake either. There were leggy girls dressed in not much more than tinsel and dancing pandas whose furry costumes slid off to reveal muscular male torsos. Minogue arrived on stage in a red cape and ribbons quickly discarded to reveal a sparkly mini dress. “I thought it was casual,” she pouted. “This is just a little something I threw on."

Something I threw on: Kylie Minogue performs on stage at the Royal Albert Hall Credit: Getty Images

During the course of the evening, she also just threw on an imperial Snow Queen ball gown, a dazzling rainbow mini dress, a slinky gold slip and plunging black glitter suit. “I’m not out of breath from singing and dancing,” she confided. “It’s getting in and out of these costumes back stage.”

We talk about costumes at a Minogue concert, of course, because the music is not really the point. The tiny Australian pop star has always managed to make a lot of very little. Her voice is adequate but lacks those special ingredients of tone, range, subtle modulation and emotional expression that set great singers apart. Yet she has extended her career across four decades, from soap opera sweetheart to pop superstar to this latest guise as camp Queen of Christmas.   

“Any Bah Humbugs in the audience tonight?” she coquettishly enquired. But of course, there were not. Minogue’s fans knew exactly what they were letting themselves in for. It was a night of cheesy Christmas pop, tinselled up versions of her own biggest hits and celebratory romps through dance classics including Night Fever by the Bee Gees and Kool & The Gang’s Celebration.

Katherine Jenkins joins Kylie Minogue on stage at the Royal Albert Hall Credit: Getty Images

Light opera singer Katherine Jenkins and young pop star Olly Alexander from Years and Years joined in festivities, neither of whom could stop smiling, as if incredulous at the whole experience. Alternative music giant John Grant added impressive gravitas to a commanding baritone duet of Minogue’s Nineties trip hop groove Confide In Me.

It was staged as if simultaneously honouring and parodying light entertainment clichés of Christmas cheer with a gay disco slant for an audience that is predominantly male and middle aged. Minogue’s secret weapon is the warmth she projects, the inclusiveness in her smile, the sense that she really loves her audience and is having every bit as much fun as they are. 

If the job of a performer is to release an audience from themselves, unshackle inhibition and unite them in a communal emotional experience, Kylie Minogue achieved it memorably. The sight of thousands of grown men and women in Santa hats, on their feet dancing and singing exuberantly along to Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is one that I won’t get out of my head for a long time.