Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

Full House for Kylie in Beijing

Dec 1

Written by:
12/1/2008 8:18 PM  RssIcon

The Australian queen of re-invention brought out the crowd, though venue and Chinese security weren't suited to her sweaty pop

 

Well done to Kylie Minogue for filling the part of the Worker’s Gymnasium she was allowed to fill: the unfortunate positioning of the stage meant there were two large chunks of seats off limits to the crowd. Why couldn’t she have set up an in-the-round stage? It would have perfectly suited this old socialist amphitheatre, its outer façade encrusted with the figures of heroic athletes. This was a lovely venue for the Olympic boxing events in August, but it hasn't been getting great reviews as a music venue - judging by the complaints of Kanye West fans who were here to see their man perform a few weeks ago.
 
Curious about who and how many showed up, I had decided that RMB60 – six euros – was all I was willing to burn on a ticket for Kylie. After circling the main gate a few times and many offers a tout bad-humouredly handed over his RMB1,300 ticket for my price. There were plenty of touts with tickets outside but it’s always thus: VIP tickets handed out for free by organizers to local bigshots and police. That’s why there was a atmosphere-less, all-seated VIP section plonked in front of the stage, helping to kill the buzz the Kylie’s in definitely capable of creating. A good turnout – the vast majority of whom were local – indeed, but there was a lot of uniniterested police and old men sitting beside me in a so-called VIP seat. I’d love to know how much box office money Kylie had going home with her.  
 
The choice of venue was unfortunate because apart from lashings of stiff-backed police and silly all-seated-crowd rule, the stadiums heavy lighting doesn’t suit a show like this. It was way too bright in there! That suited last time I was here, to see Ireland’s Olympian boxers in action: the place was packed and the atmosphere electric. On leaving, past the merchandising stalls with RMB100 t-shirts and RMB80 posters (copies were selling outside for RMB20) It was interesting to see how dog-eared the Olympic venues are starting to look, only a few months after the Games. Indifferent maintenance has allowed lots of scratches and dents to appear. Strangely there’s no commemorative plaque to remind concert goers of what happened here in the summer of 2008. I felt the same about the velodrome way out in Laoshan when I went there a few weeks ago for an equestrian convention.

 

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