Sophie Ellis Bextor;
Warrington Parr Hall 16/08/07
Perhaps the fact that the seats are full, rendering the standing area sparsely scattered with a chilled out gathering that spans a wide age range and various walks of life, is due to the reports of homicidal tendencies on the dance area when Sophie is around? Ok, that's the irresistible cheesy pun out of the way. A backing band that is as varied as the audience spring into view, inclusive of an expansive drummer who looks as though he'd get turned down asking for a fizzy drink at the bar, let alone an alcoholic one. The radiant leading lady catwalks her way into view, elegantly hovering her clear voice over the fuzzy bass lines and booming accompaniments for the fresh, Peaches skirting opener 'If I Can't Dance'. Tonight, is an opportunity for the radiant S E B to warm up for her first real tour since her dazzling debut album. Not only is the first live airing of numbers from the decadent and maturing 3rd album 'Trip The Light Fantastic', but some second album tracks are also given their first public performance.
The leading lady's presence is illuminating, bubbly and slightly cheeky from a gyration point of view. When the snazzy debut album dazzler 'Take Me Home (A Girl Like Me)' and its vibrant keyboard toe takes hold, subtle movement begins to take place, even in the opera seats. Unfortunately, this movement or any at all is not reflected by the lights that remain as still as the moon all night (don't worry, this isn't an intro to a cheap Moon-Face pun). This unfortunately bypasses the opportunity to accentuate Bextor's energy and instil even more life into proceedings and, also hopefully to a contented, but mainly vibrancy deficient crowd early on.
Bextor is the picture of a relaxed and bubbly soul throughout. Her confidence and suave spirit matches her dress sense that stays fresh and snazzy throughout the obligatory costume changes. The elegant oomph is upped a notch for the bubbly pop/disco moulding latest album forays, such as the mystical 'Me And My Imagination'.
For the most part, the backing band is content to strum effortlessly through their broad and, at times, rock skirting accompaniments happily letting the limelight shine on their boss. Although, a rising Barry Manilow keyboard kick lunges out at you through 'Love Is Here' and the musical compactness is noticeable and appreciated. From the haughty, yet yearning ballad 'I'm Not Good At Not Getting What I want', through to the main set finale of the catchy pop-out 'GrooveJet (If This Aint Love)', an endearing vibe seeps through and the audience participation rises as the evening progresses.
A stirring and provocative run through David Bowie's 'Let's Dance', gives the encore a touch of spice and more glam that helps regain momentum. Naturally, audience participation is cajoled for the rumbling and provocative 'Murder On The Dancefloor'. Tonight, Bextor shows that she has retained her catchy touch, but the range of material keeps her in the independent category and she has not lost that sense of enjoyment in what she does.