BEIJING (Reuters) - Kylie Minogue, who went from soap actress to become one of the world’s most famous female recording artists, wowed fans on Monday at her first performance in Chinese capital Beijing with an electric show.
A beaming Minogue, who recently overcame breast cancer, belted out a series of her biggest hits, including “Can’t get you out of my head,” “Better the devil you know” and “I should be so lucky.”
“It’s my first time ever here in Beijing and you’ve made me feel so welcome,” she told the crowd of some 6,000 who had gathered to see her at the Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium.
“I’m very happy today,” Minogue said in broken Chinese, to roars of approval from the crowd. “Well, it’s true!”
Her Beijing date was part of the KylieX2008 tour, a $16 million production that has already been to more than 21 countries, and included a Shanghai date last weekend.
Nicknamed by local media the “pea princess” in reference to her diminutive size, “Kaili Minuo” as she is known in Chinese barely rested during the two-hour show, dressed to the nines in a dazzling and constantly changing Jean Paul Gaultier wardrobe.
While not as well known in China as Madonna or Celine Dion, Minogue packed in the crowds with the most expensive ticket going for 2,580 yuan ($376.5), well out of the price range of the average Chinese.
“I asked some of my colleagues and they all said they didn’t know much about Kylie because not many people know her, but most of them know Madonna,” said Chinese fan Hao Chenguang.
The Australian became a household name in Britain in the 1980s after starring as Charlene in the TV soap “Neighbours.”
She turned to music after leaving the popular show, releasing her first single “Locomotion” in 1987 and has continued to enjoy huge chart success with songs such as “Love at first sight” and “Spinning around.”
In 2005 she was diagnosed with breast cancer but returned to performing after recovering from surgery and chemotherapy.
Visits by Western singers and bands to China are still fairly rare, though increasing, with the likes of the Rolling Stones and the late James Brown performing in the world’s most populous country in recent years.
Their shows don’t always go off smoothly.
Earlier this year, Icelandic singer Bjork shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” at a Shanghai concert after performing her song “Declare Independence,” angering the government and local fans alike.
Artists are forbidden to perform content that would harm “national unity” or “stir up resentment” and promoters are asked to submit set-lists and lyric sheets for approval.
Performers deemed to have hurt national sentiments are put in the freezer indefinitely, or until seen to have made due penance.
Last year, a Beijing concert for U.S. rock act Sonic Youth was nearly scuppered at the last minute after local authorities were tipped off that it had played at “free Tibet” concerts.
But Minogue avoided any hint of politics with her bouncy pop.
“Oh Beijing, you’re so wow!” she told the appreciative audience.
Additional reporting by Hanna Rantala, editing by Paul Casciato