*/**** Image B Sound A Extras B-
directed by William Baker, Alan MacDonald
by Walter Chaw A quick glance at the back cover of the KylieFever2002 <In Concert - Live in Manchester> DVD divulges three questions I couldn't help but answer before actually indulging in the spectacle from start to finish. The answers are that "Fever" and "In Your Eyes" are not what you think they are, and that "Locomotion" and "The Crying Game" are indeed, exactly what you think they are. The exercise, in short, is a good news/bad news scenario.
Good news is that Kylie Minogue isn't shy about prancing around in lingerie and various other accoutrements once associated with older professions (but now tragically desensitized by a glut of meta-whores like Christina Aguilera); the bad news is that she moves with the kind of torpor usually associated with three-toed tree mammals. Fantasizing sex with Minogue, an admirable pastime indulged by much of the world outside of the United States (and me until now), reveals itself akin to taking a Victorian paddle boat ride in a Seurat lake: it's a wonderful view, but what time is lunch? Her music videos mini-masterpieces of eroticism (her "Can't Get You Out of My Head" piece dropped by a major health club's advertising campaign after a week because of its "vavoom" factor), after watching the woman in concert it's clear that Minogue has the wit to hire talented editors if not the moves to keep the wires hidden in person.
By the sixteenth track or so as Minogue vamps for the umpteenth time before her adoring fans (fans from a place who once lavished their attentions on deserving folk like Joy Division and The Smiths) while multi-coloured disco strobes energetically fail to imbue Minogue with much of a spark, it becomes clear that the songbird is more or less the incarnation of Olivia Newton John's final metastasis in Grease--done up in Tijuana hump me hump me gear but still June Cleaver from Down Under in all her creepy, asexual sexuality. "Creepy" is in fact the best term to describe KylieFever2002--an underlying current of abortive asexuality or transgressive eroticism runs beneath the storyline of the concert from a weird rendition of "The Crying Game" to a parade of male dancers in nylons and garters to a couple of tunes sung while dressed as a certain malchick from A Clockwork Orange.
Rape and transvestism appear to be the odd lenses through which Minogue squeezes her size-2 sexuality: even the Metropolis homage that opens the piece, for chrissakes, is based on a queen and her retinue of drones. The mind boggles at the sheer volume of unintentionally mixed messages delivered by Minogue's lugubriously gyrating bottom--a languid, hypnotic wriggle again threatening American soil after a fifteen-year hiatus. Thanks to KylieFever2002, I'm finding it amazingly easy to resist her tepid, leather-clad charms.
Presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround, KylieFever2002 sounds great but scrimps on the crowd effects (or the crowd effects scrimp on her). The audio is reproduced with booming fidelity sure to satisfy Kylie's European and dirty-old fans. The video--usually beside the point in concert vids but the only point here--presented in grainy 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer has a tough time with digital artifacts and mad edge enhancement, though it succeeds admirably in allowing the interested to freeze-capture our heroine in various poses. An urge facilitated by the unseemly interest that the camera has in slow panning up Ms. Minogue in a way that can only be described as obscene and misogynistic, bless it.
An inconceivably long (34 mins.) documentary begins with a few behind-the-scenes and concert shots of the thing we ostensibly just finished watching before offering clips from Minogue's videos that, frankly--fascinatingly--provide all we need to know about the power of visual media in stumping audio media. Shots of Kylie running around screaming after the show exhibit more vitality and personality than the death march that preceded it, while her various diva poses do little to persuade that our Aussie alien show-pony is much more than a fashion plate with decent lip-synching skills. Surprise, surprise. Lots of interviews with Kylie and her creative team are interesting mainly for their lack of self-awareness ("Dr. Who" is invoked with nary a whiff of whimsy) and sense of humour--it's telling that the highlight of the docu and the disc is a few quick shots of the "Can't Get You Out of My Head" video that still make the pants a little tighter, if you know what I mean (and I think that you do).
Special features include a completely worthless "projections" feature with four song-length lightshow and animation bits of bullstuff that were apparently projected behind the songstress during the concert. Interesting to note that the second of the four ("Light Years/I Feel Love") looks just like the opening of "Dr. Who", suggesting that Kylie's handlers are one-trick droogs. "Digital Programmes" provide the digital projections that backdrop'd Kylie (such as a hilarious scrolling text that details each stage of Kylie's transformation), and rounding out the package is a DVD-ROM interface that offers access to Kylie's official site and online store. Originally published: December 9, 2002.