It’s impossible to describe the unique love Australians have for Kylie Minogue to those who don’t hail from Down Under. But tonight in Las Vegas I tried. “She’s my mother!” I screamed to someone beside me, who believed I was Minogue’s biological daughter for the better part of the evening. “She’s our Madonna!” I yelled at a straight man for daring to sit in his seat during Spinning Around.
It was the opening night of Minogue's highly-anticipated sold-out Las Vegas residency, More Than Just a Residency on Friday, November 3rd. Minogue is the inaugural headliner at the Voltaire at The Venetian Resort, an intimate 1,000-seat theatre full of plush purple velvet booths, disco balls dangling from the ceiling, and a stage that extends through the middle of the room (meaning, at points, mother herself is mere metres away).
The stage production, which reminds me exactly of the kind of room you'd expect to have found Elvis Presley in back in 1956 (during her set, Minogue paid tribute to the King of Rock), was created "centred around modern-day art deco fantasy" by Emmy and Tony award-winning production designer Derek McLane, who worked on the stage show for Moulin Rouge!, the Oscars and as designer for the 2023 Met Gala. It's a stark contrast to the huge stadium venues and festivals Minogue is used to headlining and, when tickets were released, every show sold out in less than a week. Fans threw down anywhere from $200 for a standing general admission ticket to $1000+ for a seat (that comes with a bottle service minimum — Kylie Rosé is on the menu — and the option of caviar and cookies).
The demand, which prompted production to extend to May 2024 with a total of 20 shows, proved a long theory of those who organise Vegas' famous residencies: Minogue is a hot ticket in town. Rumoured to have been courted by every theatre on the strip over the past few decades, the Australian pop star, who just turned 55, finally signed on the dotted line ahead of the release of her 16th album, Tension, which came out in September and immediately hit number 1 in Australia and the UK. Its hit single, Padam Padam, hadn't even been released when the residency was confirmed, so the song peaking at number 8 in the UK and becoming a viral TikTok song (and the gay anthem of the summer) was a welcome surprise and residency prelude in itself.
Minogue was set to come on at 9pm, but with the promise of pre-show performers, Belle de Nuit, a Parisian-style cabaret group made up of four vignettes that perform at Voltaire regardless of who is headlining, the room was full by 7:30. The DJ announced each act as they came out – one performing drag and burlesque from a life-sized coffin – doing everything from circus acrobatics, hanging from the ceiling by a rope with white latex underwear thigh-high boots and white face paint, to moving through the crowd seducing those seated closest to the stage.
We heard Minogue before we could see her, her distinctive voice counting down from 10 for the beginning of Light Years, the song from her seventh album of the same name, released in 2000. Dressed in a gold, glittering Dolce & Gabbana gown and thigh-high gold boots also by the house, who worked in collaboration with Minogue to create custom couture-like costumes for the show, it was clear from the very moment she walked on stage that we were about to experience something special, both visually and auditorily.
Surrounded by those who love her because they know and work with her and those who love her as tragic, screaming fans (I am the latter), Minogue told us she'd always dreamed of this moment, before she continued her setlist that covered her incredible career — over 80-million-records-sold and a number-one album in five consecutive decades — from Locomotion (released when she was 18), dressed in a fringe-trimmed leotard and boots, to Come Into My World, Slow, Vegas High, Love at First Sight and Can't Get You Out of My Head, as well as her latest hits, Tension and, of course, Padam Padam, for which she changed into a red latex look.
The high-energy performance, which had Minogue leaning into her glamorous Showgirl alter ego, changing outfits multiple times — including a hot pink faux fur coat and a black latex look — had the entire theatre dancing out of their seats — and a sparkling Minogue, at points, off the stage amid us — perfectly hitting every note.
I wish I could tell you more, but two tequilas and one Minogue song deep and all my note-taking went out the door in favour of dancing, singing and living in the insane moment in time — sans iPhone — that was More Than Just a Residency.
Perhaps this text sent moments after she finished sums it up best: "I genuinely think that was one of the best moments of my life." That Vegas High.