Just before Kylie Minogue hit the stage at Café de Paris last night, her band holding banjos and guitars while decked in denim with the letters 'K' and 'M' emblazoned on their shirts, the audience was treated to the sound of a horse neighing.
The horse, the denim and the banjos are all part of Minogue's current musical and visual aesthetic – basically, as the disco Dolly Parton. Her upcoming 14th album, 'Golden' follows a run of recent 'rootsy' records from pop stars (looking at you here, Timberlake).
It's unsurprising, then, that Kylie attempted to turn a central London nightclub into her own hoedown, at this, the first in a small set of dates (amusingly, she plays Berlin's Berghain soon, then plays The O2 in September).
Dressed in denim, she launched the set with the title track from the record, with the crowd of die-hards who somehow managed to get tickets to this disconcertingly small show already in rapture.
She's lucky that fans didn't seem to mind the setlist, which was heavy on new material.
Highlights came when the country twangs hooked up with the camp. The thrilling 'Raining Glitter' sounded as if 'Jolene' had been given a bump and sent off clubbing with Dolly. Lead single 'Dancing', with its lyrical morbidity and euphoric chorus, is the sort of song you want closing a Kylie show. Still, 'Shelby 68' (an ode to a car her dad drives) is saccharine, while 'Music's Too Sad Without You' – an ABBA-esque ballad with Jack Savoretti, who made a surprise appearance – perhaps brought things down a little.
She did revisit some underplayed bangers, albeit with a twinge of banjo above the beats, including a slowly built poppers o'clock rendition 'The One', 'All The Lovers' and 'Breathe'.
A stunning moment of catharsis came near the finale, in a wistful stripped-back performance of 1989's 'Hand On Your Heart'. Kylie, luxuriating in the delicacy of her vocals, stood away from the mic, closed her eyes and allowed herself to be swept away.
It's a reminder that, as someone about to turn 50, Kylie has endured against pop's fickle volatility. Underneath the bangers, costumes and confetti canons is an artist who craves to feel connected and delights at bringing joy. And if that's still her goal for this new Nashville-on-narcotics era, then it's safe to say she's scored.