Queens Hall, Edinburgh
Sophie Ellis-Bextor has come a long way since her first Edinburgh
appearance fronting short-lived indie band TheAudience at La Belle
Angele in 1998. While the intervening years have seen her epitomise
T4-friendly disco diva electro-pop, this year's Wanderlust album has
found her pretty much coming full circle in an eclectic collaboration
with Mercury nominated singer/song-writer Ed Harcourt.
Harcourt is at the keyboards as part of the black-clad sextet that
accompany Ellis-Bextor on the current leg of the tour to support the
album, as they were earlier in the year at Oran Mor in Glasgow. In what
is effectively a two-act show, the stage is bathed in red as
Ellis-Bextor enters in matching mini-dress to open with the
eastern-tinged movie theme melodrama of Birth of An Empire before
moving through a conceptual pot-pourri of off-kilter ballads, woozy Cold War
waltzes and epic chorales.
Some charming between-song banter covers tour bus Conga injuries and
what Ellis-Bextor considers to be her somewhat shaky dance skills.
There is a vote to decide which cover version she should do, with a
euphoric take on New Order's True Faith winning out over Pulp's Do You
Remember The First Time? Ellis-Bextor sings all this with such
cut-glass clarity that it's a wonder she hasn't been picked up for one
of Andrew Lloyd-Webber's better musicals by way of Eurovision and a
James Bond soundtrack.
A quick change into something sparklier and Ellis-Bextor returns for a
half-hour burl through her hits that transforms the venue into the
shiniest of nightclubs, before an unamplified duet with Harcourt in the
centre of the floor closes a show performed with panache, wit and some
The Herald, September 30th 2014