Kylie Minogue: 'My anxiety levels go through the roof when I'm on the road, but afterwards a post-tour depression can set in'
She's had to change the key in those Eighties pop hits, but Kylie is still on a high. Ahead of her Belfast concert in November she tells Andy Welch why the excitement never fades.
It's a curse of modern life that whenever you ask someone how they are, they say they're "busy". A bit of a nothing answer, really, up there with typically stock responses like "fine thanks" and "not so bad".
An exception can perhaps be made in the case of Kylie Minogue, who answers the question by saying she's "busy, busy, busy" (at least it's not "lucky, lucky, lucky").
The 46-year-old is about to go on tour, so it's easy to imagine her schedule being pretty packed.
"We've got the band on one half of the rehearsal room, and the dancers on the other, with sound guys and wardrobe in another room. It's like a micro-village," she says.
"And we're all amped, chomping at the bit.
"There are so many decisions to be made, so much information to absorb and so on, but it's a very, very exciting time."
Being on tour creates a "bubble", she admits, insulating her and the rest of the crew from the outside world. The build-up can be a confusing time, because she has one foot in her real life, the other in tour-mode.
"It's a bit odd, but when we're fully on the road, you can't really think about anything else, and the crew becomes family. If someone needs a hand or is having an off day, everyone else just rallies around to pick up the slack and helps out where they can. It's an incredible thing."
The forthcoming tour will be the first time she's taken songs from Kiss Me Once, the album she released in March this year, out on the road. She's performed a couple of them before, but with a backing track, rather than the full live band that'll accompany her on tour.
There'll be six songs from Kiss Me Once, a further 18 from the remainder of her career, including a medley or two ("I do love a medley"), a couple of unexpected covers and, perhaps most exciting for pop fans, a full section of her Eighties hits.
"We've got access to the actual PWL sounds," Kylie reveals, referring to – for those not up on their Eighties pop – Pete Waterman Ltd, home to artists in the Stock, Aitken and Waterman songwriting and production stable.
Kylie was among their first breakthrough names, followed by the likes of Rick Astley, Jason Donovan, Sinitta, Bananarama and 2 Unlimited.
During the late-Eighties and early-Nineties, the charts were dominated by PWL acts, with the claim made on Waterman's website that he's Britain's most successful producer-songwriter ever, with worldwide single sales of 500 million.
"We've worked closely with them to get the recordings, and it's just brilliant," says Kylie.
"You're going to hear sounds that you haven't heard since the Eighties. They're not all in the same key, though," she adds, noting that she can't quite hit the high notes of I Should Be So Lucky any more.
"Better The Devil You Know comes down a semitone, too. If I was doing it once, it'd be fine, but night after night, it's a lot of strain to get up there. To almost all ears, they will sound the same."
It's interesting to see her fully embracing her past. During the Nineties, she went to great lengths to distance herself from the created image of soap star-turned-pop puppet.
There was, of course, the duet with Nick Cave, Where The Wild Roses Grow, taken from his 1996 album Murder Ballads. It's often cited among Kylie's career-best moments, and gave her a much-needed credibility boost with "serious" music fans who may have written her off beforehand.
The album that followed that unlikely about-face, Impossible Princess, further cemented her position as a versatile artist, and saw collaborations with the likes of Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield, and dabbled with techno, indie and jazz. There was also the subject matter, which is among the most personal the famously secretive singer has written.
She promises that on this tour fans in Belfast will hear songs from every era of her career, although it's highly likely most will be post-2000, the year she returned and completely reinvented herself once again, with her Light Years album and Spinning Around single.
She says Fever, her eighth studio album released in 2001 – shortly after her worldwide hit single Can't Get You Out Of My Head – was when she really felt she'd hit her stride, and began to feel properly confident.
"It takes time," Kylie reflects. "I still worry about a lot of things, and my anxiety levels can go through the roof, especially on tour, although I don't think they're as bad as they used to be.
"I trust my team, and new people are brought in because they bring something fresh and a new energy. Some things feel different this time around, with this tour," she adds. "It's hard to put my finger on what, but there is a different energy.
"I've got I-don't-know-how-many tours under my belt now, but the excitement doesn't diminish at all."
She gears up for life on the road by carefully packing a few home comforts.
She's taking her own bed linen this time, and a few DVDs, although she does like to make the most of any peace and quiet if she can get it.
Even after all these years, she says the hardest thing about touring is adjusting to life afterwards.
"It can be tough," she says, "and I believe there's a recognised condition of post-tour depression. When you've been away on a tour like this, or any sort of tour where your adrenalin is going every day, it can happen.
"I have friends who say they look forward to doing nothing after tour, but I always tell them that's the worst thing you can do. Your adrenal glands are screaming, ready to go, so you have to keep active.
"Whenever I get off tour, I make sure I see all my friends to find out what they've been doing. It's like, 'Enough about me, what have you been doing?' It's very easy to get out of the loop, so it's great catching up."
It's too early to really start thinking about what she might do next year, she says, or when she might record another album; aside from a trip to her native Australia to perform there, she has no other plans. "My friends all laugh when I tell them I'm having 2015 off, because they know it'll soon be filled with things to do. But I can't really concentrate on that now, because all my focus is on the tour," she says.
"If I'm honest, I don't know the cities I'm playing in that well, but I do have very specific memories of each of the venues we're going to, and what the crowds have been like in each before.
"I'm very pleased we're starting the tour up north, because the crowds there can be the loudest and most-vocal," Kylie adds. "Raucous even, and I can't wait for everyone to see what I've got in store."
- Kylie Minogue plays the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on Nov 9. For tickets visit www.ticketmaster.ie
Why we just can't get Kylie out of our heads
Maureen Coleman on how the Aussie popstar won our hearts.
She's adored by women, lusted over by men and is considered a global gay icon.
From the moment Kylie Minogue first appeared on our television screens as tomboy mechanic Charlene Robinson (below) in Neighbours, her appeal has been widespread and enduring.
Now a youthful-looking 46, she has carved out a hugely successful career as pop star, fashion designer and talent show judge, dated a string of high-profile, highly desirable men and used her own battle against breast cancer to encourage young women to go for early checks, acknowledged by doctors as 'the Kylie effect'.
So what is it about adopted Brit Ms Minogue that makes her such an inspirational figure and led to her being declared by marketers as 'the most powerful celebrity in the UK'?
Despite her obvious sexiness women admire her warmth and her down-to-earth nature. She's a grafter as well, the ultimate chameleon, reinventing herself year on year to stay at the top of her game.
Then, of course, there was her vulnerability and courage when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, beating the disease after undergoing chemotherapy. By publicly discussing her illness and subsequent treatment, she helped raise awareness and went on to become an international ambassador for the cause.
Her chequered love life through the years endears us to her too. She may be beautiful, wealthy and possess a pert derriere, but her quest for a soulmate is the ambition that eludes her.
When she split from her latest beau last year, Spanish model Andres Velencoso, the tabloids declared her 'unlucky in love'. But the pint-sized star shrugged off the heartbreak and got on with her life, bouncing back to appear as a judge on The Voice.
And that's why we love her.
From soap to superstardom
- Kylie Ann Minogue was born on May 28, 1968, in Melbourne, Australia
- Her mum, Carol Ann, is originally from Maesteg in Wales
- She released her debut single, a cover of Little Eva's The Loco-Motion, in Australia in 1987. It was later re-recorded and released in the UK
- She has sold around 68 million records around the world. Around 10 million were singles sold in the UK
- Her song, Can't Get You Out Of My Head, which was released in 2001, reached No 1 in around 40 countries
- Kylie's 12th album, Kiss Me Once, is out now