It’s a curse of modern life that whenever you ask someone how they are, they say they’re busy.
A bit of a nothing answer, really, up there with the typically British stock responses of “fine thanks” and “not so bad”.
An exception can perhaps be made in the case of Kylie Minogue, who answers the question by saying she’s “busy busy, busy” (at least it’s not ‘lucky, lucky, lucky’...).
The 46-year-old is on tour – heading to Birmingham next week –so it’s easy to imagine her schedule being pretty packed.
“We’ve got the band on one half of the rehearsal room, and the dancers on the other, with sound guys and wardrobe in another room. It’s like a micro-village,” she says. “And we’re all amped, chomping at the bit.
“There are so many decisions to be made, so much information to absorb and so on, but it’s a very, very exciting time.”
Being on tour creates a “bubble”, she admits, insulating her and the rest of the crew from the outside world. The build-up can be a confusing time, because she has one foot in her real life, the other in tour-mode.
“It’s a bit odd, but when we’re fully on the road, you can’t really think about anything else, and the crew becomes family. If someone needs a hand or is having an off day, everyone else just rallies around to pick up the slack and helps out where they can. It’s an incredible thing.”
The tour is the first time she’s taken songs from Kiss Me Once, the album she released in March this year, out on the road. She’s performed a couple of them before, but with a backing track, rather than the full live band that’ll accompany her on tour.
There’ll be six songs from Kiss Me Once, a further 18 from the remainder of her career , including a medley or two (“I do love a medley”), a couple of unexpected covers and, perhaps most exciting for pop fans, a full section of her Eighties hits.
“We’ve got access to the actual PWL sounds,” Kylie reveals, referring to – for those not up on their Eighties pop – Pete Waterman Ltd, home to artists in the Stock, Aitken and Waterman songwriting and production stable.
Kylie was among their first breakthrough names, followed by the likes of Rick Astley, Jason Donovan, Sinitta, Bananarama and 2 Unlimited. During the late-Eighties and early-Nineties, the charts were dominated by PWL acts, with the claim made on Waterman’s website that he’s Britain’s most successful producer-songwriter ever, with worldwide single sales of 500 million.
“We’ve worked closely with them to get the recordings, and it’s just brilliant,” says Kylie. “You’re going to hear sounds that you haven’t heard since the Eighties. They’re not all in the same key, though,” she adds, noting that she can’t quite hit the high notes of I Should Be So Lucky any more.
“Better The Devil You Know comes down a semitone, too. If I was doing it once, it’d be fine, but night after night, it’s a lot of strain to get up there. To almost all ears, they will sound the same.”
It’s interesting to see her fully embracing her past. During the Nineties, she went to great lengths to distance herself from the created image of soap star-turned-pop puppet. There was, of course, the duet with Nick Cave, Where The Wild Roses Grow, taken from his 1996 album Murder Ballads. It’s often cited among Kylie’s career-best moments, and gave her a much-needed credibility boost with serious music fans who may have written her off beforehand.
The album that followed that unlikely about-face, Impossible Princess, further cemented her position as a versatile artist, and saw collaborations with the likes of Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield, and dabbled with techno, indie and jazz. There was also the subject matter, which is among the most personal the famously secretive singer has written.
The tour features songs from every era of her career, although most are post-2000, the year she returned and completely reinvented herself once again, with her Light Years album and Spinning Around single.
She says Fever, her eighth studio album released in 2001 – shortly after her worldwide hit single Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – was when she really felt she’d hit her stride, and began to feel properly confident.
“It takes time,” Kylie reflects. “I still worry about a lot of things, and my anxiety levels can go through the roof. I trust my team, and new people are brought in because they bring something fresh and a new energy.”
She gears up for life on the road by carefully packing a few home comforts. She’s taking her own bed linen this time, and a few DVDs, although she does like to make the most of any peace and quiet if she can get it.
Even after all these years, she says the hardest thing about touring is adjusting to life afterwards.
“It can be tough,” she says, “and I believe there’s a recognised condition of post-tour depression. When you’ve been away on a tour like this, or any sort of tour where your adrenalin is going every day, it can happen.
“I have friends who say they look forward to doing nothing after tour, but I always tell them that’s the worst thing you can do. Your adrenal glands are screaming, ready to go, so you have to keep active. Whenever I get off tour, I make sure I see all my friends to find out what they’ve been doing.”
It’s too early to really start thinking about what she might do next year, she says, or when she might record another album; aside from a trip to her native Australia to perform there, she has no other plans.
“My friends all laugh when I tell them I’m having 2015 off, because they know it’ll soon be filled with things to do. But I can’t really concentrate on that now, because all my focus is on the tour.
“If I’m honest, I don’t know the cities I’m playing in that well, but I do have very specific memories of each of the venues we’re going.
“I’m very pleased we’re starting the tour up north, because the crowds there can be the loudest and most-vocal,” Kylie adds. “Raucous even, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what I’ve got in store.”
* Kylie plays Birmingham’s NIA on October 7.