Kylie Minogue’s Voltaire Vegas Residency: The Opening Night Experience

Vegas, hi!

Kylie Minogue, The One True Kylie™, has officially kicked off her don’t-call-it-a-residency Las Vegas residency at The Venetian, in a brand new venue called Voltaire.

Having chased her around the globe many times before, I flew in for 48 hours to catch the opening night of our Mighty Aphrodite’s sold-out (?) run.

People have lots of questions about how it went. So now, I’m conducting an interview with myself about the experience, including every question I’ve been asked thus far. And I’ve also uploaded five million videos. Enjoy!

What is the name of this residency?

Still very unclear. Voltaire Presents: Kylie? Kylie Vegas? Not a clue on the hashtags to use, either. The tagline for the show appears to truly be “More Than Just a Residency,” though. Regrettably.

Really?

Yeah, it’s on the back of the T-shirt. “More Than Just a Residency.”

Oh…

It’s fine.

Is it fine?

No, it’s really not. “Kylie: Vegas High” was sitting right there, at the very least.

What time does it start?

Right, so I had a General Admission ticket. We got to Voltaire inside the Venetian around 7 p.m., and there were a handful of people waiting. Doors weren’t open yet, so we decided to pass some time by stopping by a bar, then trying to get up close and/or sneak into the Sphere. (We did not get far without U2 tickets in hand.)

Eventually we joined the line at Voltaire at 8:20 p.m. There was also another line for those with tables. A man walked around asking if anyone had table reservations to pull people out of the GA line who might standing be there by accident. The doors opened at 9 p.m. We all walked in, and took our spots at the bannisters overlooking the performance space.

So I don’t need to panic about getting there early?

You do not need to panic about getting there early. The vibe is extremely relaxed. No one’s being aggressive about staking claim in a certain spot. Famously, I am 5’4″, and you can see by all my videos that I saw everything just fine. Everyone is getting a great view at this venue, I promise.

How is the venue?

It’s small, but it’s beautiful. There are a bunch of bubble orbs floating above you, sort of like you’re in The Little Mermaid. Vintage lounge vibes. There’s a small stage and runway directly in the center of the room, surrounded by couches, tables and chairs. General admission stands behind a barrier overlooking the room. There’s a bar behind you.

What’s the bar like?

There’s a Vegas High (with Kylie Wine in it), Belle De Nuit, and a Voltaire Mar-tini. I was also told the bartenders were a bit frazzled, as were the staff bringing the bottles to the tables, and was told about some long wait times and confusion about who pre-ordered what.

One person at the tables told me it was chaos, and that they ran out of glasses and caviar for the tables (which have a required minimum spend), and that servers were rushing glasses back and forth to wash, and people were being refunded for hour-long drink delays.

I’m…going to chalk that up to opening night jitters, and assume that it’ll get ironed out over the next few shows.

What’s the merch like?

The merch stand is by the door where you enter, which is where I picked up a tee and a hat. There’s an amazing bomber jacket, which is $180. There’s a stunning signed lithograph for $125. It’s by no means an extensive assortment of merch, but there are at least some cute options. Hoodies, playing cards, posters, keychains and badges, too!

Is there a dress code?

Allegedly “chic and elegant.” I did a button-up and leather pants. Meanwhile, I saw at least a few people in “I Like Kylie Minogue and Sucking Cock” tees. I’m going to assume that whatever you wear is going to be just fine.

How does the show start?

About a half hour after we entered the venue, a handful of dancers in beaded wigs began striking a pose on the catwalk, occasionally prowling out into the crowd to shimmy and shake.

One performer actually came up to us at the railing, turned around and let their head down, as their beads accidentally plunged directly into someone’s drink in their hands. It’s just like Cats on Broadway. Kind of.

Anyway, settle in and get comfortable. You’re going to be there for a long time before Kylie actually appears.

Wait, what? Why?

Okay. So, the experience is being billed as an immersive night, with Kylie being a part of the night…

Explain further.

Whether there’s a headliner like Kylie or Christina Aguilera or not, Voltaire is centered around Belle de Nuit, a Parisian-style cabaret. There are four acts, then a DJ break, then four more acts before the special guest, followed by a DJ set.

The acts consist of one or a few dancers performing in different styles, like pole dancing, burlesque, aerial acrobatics, and muscle dudes lifting each other up in various configurations. (To no one’s surprise, this one drew the most attention from the 99.6% gay male crowd.)

And if there’s no headliner, Belle de Nuit is the star of the show that night. Then, a DJ carries the night through past 2 a.m.

Okay. So what happens in between the performances?

There is a MC, and…woof. She needs work, to put it kindly. She first announced to the crowd how the night would work – the whole performers, then Kylie, then DJ situation – and then introduced and outro-ed each performance act. It was just awkward. She would get back on the mic and say things like “Woo. Did you like that? Make some noise for them, Vegas. Woo.” We can lose all of that.

What does any of this have to do with Kylie?

I know. There’s an underlying tension, pun unintended, with the very premise of the night. It’s trying to be like an immersive cabaret, or a Studio 54 situation, with a special guest of the night. But everyone was very plainly there for Kylie. We all just want Kylie. We are dressed for Kylie. The dancers are all very talented and beautiful, but…flights were booked for Kylie. Around the sixth or seventh act, by around 11 p.m., a man loudly shouted from the general admission crowd: “We want Kylie!”

But then Kylie does eventually show up, right?

Yes, after about eight dance vignettes and two 20-minute DJ breaks, Kylie arrives to the stage around 11:15 p.m. and all is well.

How does Kylie start?

With “Light Years,” iconic countdown and all, as the curtains rise up to reveal the immaculate icon posing in a gold, shimmering number. She then rapid-fire launches into “Supernova,” then “Your Disco Needs You” – it’s a fast and furious start, for sure.

I heard it’s a 75-minute show. Isn’t that too short?

By about 2 or 3 songs at the very least, yes. Given Kylie’s 35-year long stretch as one of the greatest pop stars of our generation, a 75-minute set feels slightly inappropriate. 90 minutes would feel better, at the very least. After all, there are certain artists with far less eras touring for well over three hours. Granted, the Kylie set list is more or less perfection, with fan favorites scattered throughout – “Confide In Me”! “Your Disco Needs You”! – but it does go by very fast, especially as she zips through the first three songs.

What are the highlights?

Every Tension track, but especially “Vegas High.” The certified banger is even better with a band, and reaches euphoric heights as Kylie gets lifted up by her dancers. Every time she does “Your Disco Needs You” live, all of life’s problems briefly fall away. This rendition is certainly no exception, operatic high notes and all. (The mic is very on all night, not that anyone should be surprised.) “Confide In Me” – my favorite Kylie song on most days – gets an absolutely incredible, haunting performance that is appropriately dark and brooding. The slow-build of “Come Into My World” into the pulsating main version was a thrill, especially since she hasn’t done that classic in a minute. “Slow” got incredible response – the crowd’s shout of “Read my…BODY LANGUAGE” took her aback. The new mix of “The Loco-Motion” actually goes off. Seeing her do a touch of the “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” original choreography on the catwalk is a thrill. I got choked up hearing “Hold On To Now” live for the first time.

To be honest, there aren’t any low moments at all. This is an all killer, no filler show.

What’s on the set list?

Right here. For the experienced Lovers in the crowd, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the performance is largely something she’s been working with over the past few years, since around Glastonbury 2019 onward.

The show pulls heavily from her lockdown concert Infinite Disco, as well as her recent radio gigs at KTUphoria and BBC Radio 2 In the Park. From “Light Years” into “Supernova,” to “In Your Eyes,” the “Slow” into “Love to Love You Baby,” there are certain mixes and/or configurations of the hits that we’ve come to expect at Kylie concerts of late.

The newer songs from Tension just keep getting better live as she finds new ways to play with them, including another major standout of the evening, “Padam Padam.” She’s given the Song of Summer 2023 an increasingly dramatic, ominously pulsating introduction in recent months, which is absolutely exhilarating to experience live. Once the curtains raised to reveal Kylie in red, standing atop a raised platform recalling the music video, the room went wild.

I’ve never seen Kylie before. Will I like it?

You’ll be shaken to your core.

I’ve seen Kylie 500 times live. Will I like it?

Yes, duh. Obviously I would love some curveballs – what, no “German Bold Italic”? – but it absolutely feels like the ideal Kylie-in-Vegas set list. (No “On a Night Like This” feels criminal, though.)

Does Kylie interact with the crowd?

Yes, and that’s part of what makes this special! Throughout the night, Kylie riffs and talks to the crowd, charming us with tales of putting together the Vegas show, growing up listening to her parents’ Donna Summer and ABBA vinyls, and recording her first demos. She’s a joy to listen to, and a consummate professional. She commands the stage whether she’s performing or speaking, and it’s great to hear from her every few songs or so.

She also happily reacted to the crowd throughout, embracing one man who was openly weeping, commenting on all of the sparkly ensembles (just call us a slur, Kylie!), and asking about who had long treks to get to Vegas. (At least a few flew in from Australia.)

She also pays tribute to the spirit of Vegas with a beautiful rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” draped in a coat jacket.

Towards the end of the show, Kylie briefly attempted to sing fan-favorite “The One” acoustic live, and then amusingly forgot the words. A good try. It’s all very endearing.

So did you like it?

I loved it, honestly! Any issues I have with the evening are almost entirely non-Kylie based, if you can’t tell.

Of course, yes, I’d love a longer set with some lesser known gems, massive production value, and even more outfits – so basically, the long-awaited Disco/Tension Tour – but otherwise, what we’ve been given is a solid set that provides a pretty perfect overview of the Kylie experience. And because the room is so small, it feels incredibly special. It’s like you all pulled up a few comfy chairs to watch Kylie performing Especially For You and a few of your friends in your living room, which is a big part of what sells the experience. (“Seductively intimate,” as Legendtina’s own residency flyers accurately boasts.)

Did everyone you went with like it, too?

Yes! My friends gushed profusely – about Kylie. A few lamented the fact that she wasn’t playing a bigger show, and also that the night wasn’t exclusively Kylie.

Some friends had issues with getting stuck waiting to enter the venue after arriving late into the night, and some had massive issues with the whole table bottle service situation.

But as for Kylie herself? Everyone loved.

What about after, did you stay for the DJ thing?

Only for a little, mostly to grab merch. The post-show DJ – who, by the way, was the legendary John “Jellybean” Benitez, of Madonna “Holiday” fame – really did make the venue turn up post-Kylie. The ones that stayed were up and dancing at the tables as the venue really shifted into club mode. The sound system is incredible, also.

Would you change anything about the layout?

Like most Vegas shows I’ve been to, table situations are a toss-up: they’re either full of diehards, or straight people who somehow wandered in / disinterested high-rollers and/or celebrities. The people in general admission were all clearly in the diehard camp, and I do think a standing GA section of shaking and crying fans near the catwalk would give her better energy than being tucked away at the back of the venue. It’s not even the table section’s fault, but you could tell that people didn’t even know if they should sit or stand in moments.

Why did seats and tables go on-sale day of? And why are tickets available again? Wasn’t it all sold out in a big mess within minutes months ago?

So, this is interesting – and don’t take my gossip as gospel, but I was told that the venue barely got cleared to open this week, and that the dates showing that they were sold out actually…weren’t. They apparently had to stop selling tickets because the venue wasn’t cleared by the fire marshal until recently, which is why ticket sales opened back up this week and the “sold out” banners disappeared. It all sounds so thoroughly…Vegas. (Derogatory.)

Is it worth the trek?

It is. It’s Kylie. She’s incredible, of course. She looked and sounded beautiful all night long. There was never a doubt going into this that she would give us an amazing show. She knows exactly what her audience wants.

Does Voltaire know what this audience wants? That’s less certain. It’s definitely “More Than Just a Residency,” but it…also probably should just be the residency? But I also believe now that the Word Is Out (REFERENCE) about how the evening works, perhaps people’s expectations will be calibrated appropriately ahead of time, so they aren’t confused about why Kylie isn’t on stage for hours, and they can enjoy the entire experience for what it is.

This is also a huge moment, lest we forget. I’m just one of many American fans who’ve been fighting the good fight for Kylie to get her flowers stateside. This is a performer who is 16 studio albums deep into a career that is largely based outside of the United States, who was selected to kick-off a brand new night at a shiny new venue on the Las Vegas Strip. That, in and of itself, is a major triumph. We truly are so lucky, lucky, lucky.

@muumuse Kylie Minogue performs “Vegas High” during the opening night of her Las Vegas residency! 🎰 #kylieminogue #kylievegas ♬ original sound – Bradley Stern