From Indie Kylie to gold hotpants Kylie, can’t-get-her-out-of-our heads Kylie to Country Kylie, the star has always been a master of reinvention.
Now, Kylie Minogue has ushered in the era of the Padam-ic, thanks to the summer heartbeat-pounding earworm that set TikTok alight and spent four weeks in the UK Top 10, her highest-charting single in the UK in more than a decade.
Later tonight she will put on her first live full UK concert show for four years – headlining Radio 2 In The Park, which takes place in the city this weekend and started with performances from acts including Busted, James Blunt and Tears For Fears on Saturday. Today’s line-up includes Rick Astley, The Pretenders and Sam Ryder, ahead of Kylie’s much-anticipated headline show.
Minogue herself has said she is “beyond excited” to perform in the city. And so she should be, because Leicester can put on one hell of a party. I know this because it’s my home city, and I was lucky enough to witness the epic celebrations when Leicester City beat those 5,000-1 odds to become Premiere League champions back in 2016. So I know there will be a huge buzz this weekend.
For many of us who spent our childhood or teenage years here, it feels like one massive school reunion. We’ve reverted to our teenage selves, Whatsapp groups pinging with detailed discussions of what times and places to meet and, most importantly: what you wearing? (I’m thinking gold trousers – the hotpants felt just a little too much).
Secret knitter: ‘I admire how she has handled her fame’
In the run-up to Leicester City pulling off the impossible the city responded accordingly as victory became more and more likely, with bars and restaurants creating blue cocktails and other club-inspired menu additions. Now, the city is getting ready for Kylie in similar fashion.
The anonymous Syston Knitting Banxy, who has been sharing knitted post box toppers around the Leicestershire town since 2019, spent two-and-a-half weeks creating this Padam-era Kylie.
The mysterious knitter is known for creating famous Leicestershire faces, including characters played by This Is England actor Stephen Graham (who is from Merseyside but lives in the county), and the Attenborough brothers, but also gets stitching to help local fundraising events or to mark other occasions.
“I chose Kylie partly because I identify with her as a woman of similar age, but also because of my admiration of her and how she has handled her fame,” Syston Knitting Banxy told Sky News, remaining undercover. “She seems so down to Earth and such a beautiful soul. And from a knitting artist’s point of view… that outfit: wow! The finished piece would unmistakably be our Kylie.
“This event is huge for Leicester. I’m so very proud of Leicester and I’m overjoyed that we are being visited by so many people, and by so many stars. And if you hear any of us saying, ‘Ay up, me duck’ – rest assured that it’s all good.”
‘Leicester’s got the most amazing music scene’
The show is taking place in Victoria Park, which has hosted shows by Leicester band Kasabian in the past. And actually, today’s visit won’t be Kylie’s first time – she played a previous weekender show alongside Coldplay and Posh Spice back in 2001. But it isn’t a regular site for gigs.
Leicester musician Frank Benbini, also known as Uncle Frank – and the dummer for Fun Lovin’ Criminals – says that while the city has a thriving music scene, the fact it doesn’t have a big arena that would normally bring such huge acts in is what makes Kylie’s appearance extra special.
“Leicester’s got the most amazing music scene but at the same time we don’t have that kind of facility for like a monstrous act like Kylie Minogue,” says Benbini. “So to have the park open up is just a beautiful thing and hopefully the weather will hold out.
“I know everybody in Leicester has been super excited about it and it’s great as well for the Leicester music scene, which has always been thriving. But to be pulling these big acts in our hometown just makes it super exciting… and I think it’s what’s needed in this town. It’ll be nice for the city to start thinking possibly about some kind of music venue that can host such big things, or whether or not [Leicester City stadium] King Power can open up and start doing big, big shows there.”
For me, I grew up in Leicester and I grew up with Kylie; from bedroom dance routines to I Should Be So Lucky at the age of five, to listening to Confide In Me on repeat as a teenager, to experiencing the joy of seeing her live for the first time in her Spinning Around and Can’t Get You Out Of My head era.
And then, getting teary while watching her on stage in front of an enormous crowd at Glastonbury in 2019, thinking of everything she had overcome to get to that place; not just the breast cancer diagnosis that forced her to pull out of what, as a female pop star, would have been a history-making headline set back in 2005, but also because there was once a time she was dismissed as bubblegum. She said herself that Glastonbury, when it finally came, felt like acknowledgement.
Now, here she is at 55, a pop legend, once again reinventing herself and still at the top after almost 40 years in the business – she has topped the UK album charts in five consecutive decades – and doing it live in Leicester. As a fan of the city and the artist, I feel lucky (lucky, lucky) to be in the crowd to welcome her back.