Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Bush Hall, London
Disco diva Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s profile was raised significantly towards the end of last year, appearing as a contestant on the BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing, finishing in a not too shabby fourth place. The singer has kicked off her 2014 returning to her “day job”, releasing album number five - Wanderlust, a collection that's a real departure from her previous work, as it sees Miss EB ditching her dancing shoes, leading to a track listing that takes in an assortment of styles.
London's Bush Hall was the venue of choice for the launch of the album (released the previous day), with Sophie joined on stage by a band that included her husband (and member of The Feeling) Richard Jones on bass and Wanderlust's co-writer, producer and collaborator Ed Harcourt on keyboards.
During the show the singer compared her new arrival to the soundtrack from a 70s Eastern European film and there were tracks full of Eastern promise on display, alongside quirky ballads, waltzes and a couple of raucous numbers that would have been at home on Theaudience's debut!
The Shepherd's Bush crowd were treated to live renditions of almost every song on the album, with each track made as welcome as old favourites. Sophie seemed delighted by the reception the new songs were receiving, mentioning that we were noisy in the bits she wanted us to be noisy in and quiet when she wanted us to be quiet!
Wanderlust is a self financed release but her faithful fans almost didn't get to hear it as the singer was torn between a new album or a fast car during a mid pop career crisis! Sophie's choice was possibly a loss for automobile retailers but the music world certainly benefited as I believe it's her finest album to date. Each track sounded terrific live but single 'Young Blood', 'Love Is A Camera', '13 Little Dolls' and forthcoming release (and my album fave) 'Runaway Daydreamer' were all real stand outs.
It may have been a night to unveil new material but there were a few "classics" on display when the singer's well deserved encore appeared. 'Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)' and a medley including ‘Get Over You’ and ‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)’ had the house dancing, with ‘Murder On the Dancefloor’ upping the ante and closing the night.
Sophie and her band departed after 'Murder', with the songstress heading to the back of the auditorium rather than disappearing backstage. This was to give the audience at the back a real treat, as Sophie, accompanied by Ed on the house piano, sang one last song, an unmic'd rendition of Wanderlust's delicate ballad 'Interlude', giving the neck strainers a little moment they wouldn't forget in a hurry.