Can Kylie Padam Padam her way into hearts at Las Vegas?

Kylie Minogue is no stranger to live performance, clocking up 15 concert tours since 1989.

Kylie Minogue is no stranger to live performance, clocking up 15 concert tours since 1989. Photo: AAP

Following in the footsteps of Celine Dion, Adele, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue is moving on to the next big gig with a Las Vegas residency.

Opening in November and playing over more than five months at the newly curated Voltaire club inside the The Venetian Resort, Minogue will perform her stagecraft to an intimate audience of 1000 and potentially rake in a multi-million-dollar payday including merchandise and bonuses.

From the high-roller days of Elvis and Frank Sinatra, a Vegas residency came to be described in the 1980s as an “elephant graveyard where talent goes to die”. It was all thanks to Dion, who reanimated the lure of residencies – and now it’s Minogue’s turn to Padam Padam her way into Sin City’s music history.

‘Earned the right to be there’

With her pop sensibility, expert backing dancers and singers, an ability to swap in and out of elaborate and risque costumes, and her mass appeal (including across the LGTBIQ community), Minogue’s talent on stage is well known.

Her most recent live gig was her February Mardi Gras performance  with sister Dannii in Sydney, where she had the crowd in raptures as she closed out the concert with All the Lovers.

Her credentials speak for themselves, clocking up a total of 15 concert tours since 1989 – and selling more than 80 million records over four decades – to become one of Australia’s most valuable musical exports of the modern era.

She has had eight UK No.1 albums, won three BRIT awards, two MTV awards and a Grammy and is the only female artist to score a No.1 album in five consecutive decades in the UK.

The 55-year-old does have a lower profile in the US, so will Americans travel to Vegas to watch the Aussie showgirl perform an intimate three-hour set in a town notorious for its gambling, adult entertainment and all-night partying?

You bet they will.

While the US market has been the last frontier for her – her success has largely been with Asia, Middle Eastern and South American audiences – Minogue announced on August 15 her shows had sold out and she was adding 10 more dates, meaning she will be a fixture on the Vegas Strip up until May next year.

Immediately sold out

“OMG… Sold Out!?! So humbled by this overwhelming response,” she wrote on X, the social media account formerly known as Twitter.

She told a press conference in Los Angeles she feels she’s earned the right to perform and wants her show to have “enough glamour and abandon” fans have come to expect.

“I’ve got some versions of songs that have not been heard, like reinterpretations of songs, which is exciting. Live bed dances, amazing costumes.

“I was thinking years ago I want to do it when I’m younger like, I don’t want to do it when I’m at the sunset of my career. So, I think I’ve got it right somewhere in the middle where I feel like I’ve earned the right to  have the experience to really enjoy being there.”

Kylie Minogue in New York performing her new Padam Padam hit. Photo: Getty

US fans responded to her residency with delight, with one saying “no-one puts on a better show than Kylie. Her live concerts are amazing, I would love to see her here”.

And this: “I am an American who attended Showgirl way back in 2005 and I really hope that the Venetian and American audiences get a wonderful experience and surprise when seeing her! It’s a magical experience.

“Kylie please make your Vegas Show as fun as your GRLS Festival, São Paulo, Brazil 2020 !!

The Venetian was quick to spruik Minogue’s exclusive residency, describing the Voltaire nightclub as a “new destination nightlife scene” that comes on the heels of her smash hit Padam Padam (vaguely meaning heartbeat).

Minogue is up against some stiff competition over the next six months as the biggest names in the business return for encore performances or start new sets.

$2400 a ticket

She will play 20 nights all up, with opening night tickets selling out at $2400 each. There’s also Venetian Hotel packages from $3250 for two people including her concert. (She reaped in a massive $4 million for performing one night in a hotel in Dubai, so this should also be a good payday).

Adele continues her run at the Colosseum until November 4, Lady Gaga is on at the Dolby Live at Park MGM from August 31 to October 5 (she’s performed there between 2019 and 2021 as well) and legendary Irish rock band U2 is on at Sphere from September 29 to December 16.

There’s also Lionel Ritchie, The Chippendales, Chicago, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and everyone’s favourite Barry Manilow.

So it’s the place to be these days and there’s a bag of cash to be made these days.

But it wasn’t always the way according to Marketwatch: “Playing Vegas was see as a swan song for the sellouts and the washed outs” in the 1980s and 90s.

“There used to be a certain element of cheesiness to playing in Vegas,” music journalist and former New York Daily News columnist Jim Farber said.

“I talked to Cher about that, and she referred to it as an ‘elephant graveyard where talent goes to die’ – and she was speaking of herself”.

What sparked the revival?

“It really goes back to over a decade, when Celine Dion launched her residency at Caesars Palace – and that was really the beginning of top notch artists starting residencies in the height of their careers,” said Jason Gastwirth, senior vice-president of marketing and entertainment for Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation, in 2019.

Dion’s years long Caesars Palace residency raked in $US385 million from 2003 to 2007, and she banked another $US296 million for an encore show from 2011 to 2019.

Elton John’s residency earned a total of $300.7 million while Britney Spears grossed $US137 million for her Piece of Me residency, which ran from 2013 to 2017

Just one look at Minogue’s performance at both ceremonies for the 2000 Olympic Games, watched by four billion people, is enough to convince anyone her show will have it all.

She will draw inspiration from her Showgirl: The Greatest Hits Tour in 2005 and The Homecoming Tour in 2006, when her stages were Art-Deco inspired, with costumes inspired by the Moulin Rouge and Las Vegas showgirls.

According to the National Film and Sound Archive in their 50 Fun Facts on Kylie, Antarctica is the only place she hasn’t performed, only Queen Elizabeth II has had more wax figures at Madame Tussauds in London, and her concert costumes have been in exhibitions around the world.

“We’ve seen major success with [Vegas residencies], so the idea that this is something that would be a detractor to their careers is past,” Mr Gastwirth said at the time.

“This is just another aspect of touring now.”

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