Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 28th Sept 2014

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Everyone will have probably heard Sophie's earlier works from her days as a disco diva. You will definitely know Murder on the Dance Floor, but there are about 4 or 5 other tracks from the late 1990's/early 2000s that you will have tapped your toe to on Radio 2, or if you're old enough, strutted your stuff to, on the dance floor - e.g. her cover of Cher's "Take Me Home"

There have been a number of collaborations and albums since that time, which I have to confess I have not really heard in detail, but the release of Wanderlust in Jan 2014 definitely did catch my ear. All the songs on the Wanderlust album were co-written by Ed Harcourt, who also produced the album, and his input has been beneficial in my humble opinion.

At the allotted time (21:00 ish) the band took their places, the packed Queen's Hall audience went wild as Sophie skipped on, dressed in red (matching the initial lighting). She said "Hi Edinburgh" and went on to talk about enjoying her previous Scottish gig at Oran Mor earlier this year. Many of the die-hard fans at the front had been there too, and cheered enthusiastically. 

The band launched into Birth Of An Empire, an eastern sounding film-score-sort-of-song. The vocals were good, and the keyboards and twin violins made this a great opener.
Until the Stars Collide was next, highlighting just how good Sophie's vocals are live. 

In the next break, Ellis-Bextor took time to chat about life on the tour bus (a very large dark-windowed vehicle parked just outside the Queen's Hall) and the previous night's drink fuelled conga injury to Ed Harcourt. He raised his hand and smiled sheepishly.
She also made a self depreciating reference to her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing and said that her stage moves had not improved despite intensive training last year. 

In fact, she worked the stage very well, always quirky and flirty, keeping the crowd entertained, moving very confidently and providing excellent vocals throughout. 

Runaway Daydreamer, The Deer And The Wolf and Young Blood that followed were all considerably better than the album versions, and When The Storm Has Blown Over was simply beautiful. You could see why Sophie and this group line-up had won Best Live Act prize at the AIM Awards in Sept 2014.

The crowd were then given the opportunity to choose between a Britpop or 80s cover. The choices were:  Do You Remember the First Time? (Pulp) or True Faith (New Order). There was no contest in the mind of the audience, and the version of True Faith they performed was really excellent - I wish there was some web footage to share here.

Another cover, this time an Ed Harcourt track from his album Lustre provided an opportunity for Ed to take lead vocals with Sophie backing him. 

A seriously rocking version of 13 Little Dolls had the crowd bouncing, followed by Love Is A Camera and Cry To The Beat Of The Band, this completed the first set. Sophie dashed off, the band played on to complete "Beat Of The Band", and then they too retired.

Disco Negligee
They all returned after much audience noise. Sophie had slipped into "something more comfortable" (a disco negligee I think) and gave us a fabulous rolling medley of all the disco hits ending with "Murder".  The Queen's Hall was jumping and sweaty hot, especially at the front of the stage. Finally they came to a finish and both Sophie and Ed dashed off stage, while the rest of the band took the tumultuous applause.

But still no house lights. Would there be another encore?

Sophie and Ed unplugged
Suddenly there was cheer from further back in the hall, and there were Ed and Sophie standing in the middle of the crowd, at the mixing desk, on a raised platform. 
The crowd went wild, but eventually quietened down after much shushing, as Ed strummed the guitar and Sophie began to sing Interlude:
It's clearly plain to see
The sun is breaking through the clouds
I'm falling through a dream

You could have heard a pin drop (with the exception of the drunken muppet next to me who felt the need to scream "We love you Sophie" half way through the song. 

Surprisingly excellent gig (well it was for me, as I'd never seen Ms Ellis-Bextor perform live before) and the adoring audience left at speed to be first in line at the merchandise stall, where Sophie had offered earlier to give kisses and sign anything we wanted. Glorious night.


Sophie Ellis-Bextor – vocals
Seton Daunt – guitar
Ed Harcourt – backing vocals, guitar, keyboards
Richard Jones – bass
Gita Langley – violin
Rosie Langley – violin 

Birth Of An Empire
Until The Stars Collide
Runaway Daydreamer
The Deer And The Wolf
Young Blood
When The Storm Has Blown Over
True Faith (New Order cover)
Wrong Side Of The Sun
When the Lost Don't Want to Be Found (Ed Harcourt cover)
13 Little Dolls
Love Is A Camera
Cry To The Beat Of The Band
----- encore ----
Take Me Home 
Lady (Hear Me Tonight)
Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)
Sing It Back
Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)
Murder On The Dancefloor
--- final track ---
Interlude (Acoustic Sophie and Ed)

Ella The Bird 

The support was Ella The Bird  - the new alter-ego of Siobhan Wilson, and having seen her perform a couple of times before, I was looking forward to her set. 
She came on quietly, and proceeded to bring a hush to the Queen's Hall.

Ella The Bird (formerly known as Siobhan Wilson)
The first half of her 6 song set was performed at the keyboard, including a lovely heart-breaking version of Joni Mitchell's Case Of You.
Her gentle voice, breathy and intimate, soared at times to bring smiles of delight from the audience.
She then picked up her guitar for the remainder and finished off with the crowd pleasing favourite All Dressed Up. 

Need more info on the full setlist


  1. I know absolutely nothing about this lady....even Murder is unknown to me. She does seem a lady who has reinvented herself for the better of late going by your review.

  2. Ian, just read your comment. I knew of Sophie in her dance-floor diva days, and always kinda liked some of those songs in a retro way. The new album is much more contemporary and good fun, particularly in a full band live rendition situation.