Sophie Ellis-Bextor at Hammersmith Apollo
The ever-iconic Sophie Ellis-Bextor has been creating pop-disco hybrid tunes for more than 20 years. Although she has had hits to her name since the noughties, Murder on the Dancefloor has skyrocketed in popularity in the past year, thus introducing the electric wonderland that is Ellis-Bextor’s discography to a new generation of listeners. The singer has been touring throughout 2023, and each show is different from the last. As a born and raised West Londoner, Ellis-Bextor put on a hometown gig to remember at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith.
It’s that time of year: Christmas lights are strung, red and green lace the streets, and the smell of pine cannot be missed. Ellis-Bextor celebrates this magically, starting off the night with a joyful rendition of Sleigh Ride. The performer continues to set the scene, explaining how this is not your typical concert; she shares some fun London-based trivia facts, like how it is illegal to feed pigeons in Trafalgar Square, and provides the crowd with some “cracker-jokes”, as she calls them. After a quick, yet impressive costume change, she plays Music Gets the Best Of Me. Wild Forever follows it, and just when the audience thinks Ellis-Bextor will play a stream of her greatest hits, she introduces “The Wheel”. This wheel has around 20 song options, and whatever it lands on, the band has to play; unless she says otherwise, of course. The first surprise song of the night was her hit Catch You, which switched the energy from straight disco to rock. Next was a planned track from her latest album Hana called Hypnotised, which had crowd choreography that the standing area followed to a T. Hypnotised transitions smoothly into A Thousand Orchids. The two Hana tracks blend well, but Ellis-Bextor switches it up once again, opting for an acoustic version of Lost In the Sunshine, which starts off slow but becomes grand with the addition of vocal harmonies and an elegant strings arrangement.
The songstress then jumps right back into the Christmas spirit with another costume change, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Last Christmas, which the crowd heavily adore. It is time for another song from the wheel; anticipation builds, and the wheel lands on Lionel Richie’s All Night Long, furthering the excitement of attendees. Ellis-Bextor returns to disco with Get Over You and a call and response to engage the crowd. A rendition of Merry Christmas Everyone is next, then followed by one of her greatest hits, Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love). Ellis-Bextor continues this back and forth, with one last Christmas cover, The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping, Crying at the Discoteque and a fantastic performance of Madonna’s Like a Prayer. The night is almost complete, and as she finishes Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer), the crowd already knows what is next: Murder on the Dancefloor. Although everyone may have thought this performance was predictable, it was anything but; three out of Ellis-Bextor’s five sons took the stage to dance and ride around on a Christmas-themed sledge in Christmas-themed pyjamas.
The night was, in fact, not finished with Ellis-Bextor’s big hit. After the crowd’s pleas for “one more song!”, the band returned and performed three final Christmas covers: Fairytale of New York featuring Dan Gillespie-Sells, All I Want For Christmas Is You, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, respectively.
Overall, Sophie Ellis-Bextor created a very interesting and highly unpredictable night. She and her band provided something for everyone to enjoy, whether it be her classics, Christmas favourites or excellent covers of outstanding tunes. Ultimately, there was never a dull moment throughout the night.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Lost in the Sunshine here: