Lost in a YouTube loop some months ago, a Sophie Ellis-Bextor playlist began. She’s had some banging tunes I thought to myself (not actually true – the phrase ‘banging tunes’ has never once crossed my pursed lips in my time on the planet). But some really excellent pop songs. And so many of them (a quick search revealed that she is now on her seventh album). So when I heard some weeks later that she was playing a gig in my favourite concert venue in Dublin – Vicar Street – I immediately bought a pair of tickets. I didn’t know who I’d be going with, but finding a partner in crime for gigs or theatre isn’t usually a problem.
Anyway, roll on to this week and my concert companion pulled out. Which was unfortunate. Never fear however, I am well used to solo flight – be it holidays or theatre or cinema. Going to a concert alone is my least favourite lone experience. I have found that a live gig is so immediate that it is better to have a fellow traveller. Not to worry though. Needs must.
Ms Ellis- Bextor had thoughtfully mentioned on her social media that she was taking to the stage at 9.15. I arrived to hear the end of the set of the support act Alice Jemima – feeling a little disappointed that I had not arrived earlier as she was impressive in the last few minutes of her show.
At 9.15pm a troop of musicians file out onto the stage. This concert is in support of her new album ‘Song Diaries’ where her greatest hits are performed with the accompaniment of an orchestra. The concert would be the same. This might seem unusual – Sophie Ellis-Bextor is known mainly for her dance-pop records – a genre that produces massive hits but where the singers often remain fairly anonymous, with the DJs taking the accolades. Not so our Sophie. She burst into the public consciousness about twenty years ago as the featured singer on ‘Groovejet’ by Spiller. She was fortunate I suppose that this song was part of a chart battle against Victoria Posh’s first record since leaving the Spice Girls – ‘Out of your mind’. In a manner typical of the British press this fictional battle was used to hype up some imaginary rivalry. In any case ‘Groovejet’ was victorious. And Bextor launched a solo career which featured some great songs and a classic hit ‘Murder on the dancefloor’ which remains a floor-filler and wedding staple ever since.
She was an interesting pop star – having a distinctive voice, an icily beautiful appearance and a fairly raucous sense of humour.
She didn’t fail her audience last night – with an engaging personality, and joking and chatting to the crowd. I was glad to see a strong contingent of fancy gentlemen present.
The first half of the show heavily features the orchestra– it leant an air of gravitas and pomp to the proceedings, and showcased Sophie’s lovely singing voice. She was wearing a stunning green gown (a gown mind you, not a dress – if the adjectives ‘floating’; ‘diaphanous’ and ‘sequinned’ are used in conjunction with a frock, then it automatically gets promoted to a ‘gown’. )
During the second half of the show, the orchestra remained and were joined by a rock band. This was the party time of the show. The audience took to their feet to the sound of the hits – ‘Take me home’; ‘Get over you’; ‘Groovejet’; ‘Young hearts run free’; ‘Don’t leave me this way’ and of course the show-stopping finale of ‘Murder on the dancefloor’
It was a joyous concert. A mutual love-in between a fantastic singer and her devoted audience. Last night was the last date of the current stage of the tour. She’s taking the orchestra and band back on the road in November.
I am partial to a bit of lunatic hyperbole and I know that I say this about every concert I enjoy, so it’s only fair to say it of Sophie Ellis-Bextor – her ‘Song diaries’ concert was the most electrifying night in the history of show business. Don’t miss it.