Sophie Ellis Bextor – ‘The Song Diaries’ – Live in Concert, Birmingham Symphony Hall, 8th June 2019
by Mark Keen
This concert with a full life orchestra was a real delight. There are now some extra dates in the autumn so it would be murder on the dance floor if you don’t get yourselves there. I guarantee that you will have an amazing time. Sophie gives 100% commitment from the minute she steps on stage to the minute she leaves and genuinely wants to please. Anyone who can remember the names of every single person in an orchestra and a band deserves a round of applause (which she got). Granted one of her band members was her husband Richard Jones from The Feeling! My only worry was that did that mean Janet Ellis was babysitting the five children!
The concert is really in two parts – the first being fully orchestrated and the last half an hour a combination of the orchestra and her band in full disco mode ramping up the energy and getting everyone on their feet.
Sophie gave a stunning performance and really entertained the crowd showing a great sense of humour and a completely down to earth persona. Sometimes Sophie’s voice is criticised as not having an enormous range, but that could be true of many of the best entertainers. She certainly made up for this by singing perfectly throughout and actually sounding better than she does on record. Her voice gets the chance to breathe more and the song lyrics really show their poignancy like never before. Perhaps “Mixed Up World” is really a song for our time at present.
Songs from throughout her career are included with some well chosen covers including “Young Hearts Run Free” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way” in the disco session. Highlights for me included “Youngblood”, “Mixed Up World” and “Love Is You”, the inspiration for “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)”. The big hits, such as “Murder On The Dance Floor”, “Catch You” and “Take Me Home” were obviously present, plus perhaps some lesser known songs such as “Wild Flower” and “Love Is A Camera”. I would have liked to hear “I Won’t Change You”, but that’s being a bit churlish.
With simple, but effective lighting the concert was radiant. I can’t imagine anyone leaving disappointed. Just when we though the concert had ended Sophie reappeared up in the gods with a couple of violinists for a fantastic version of her breakout hit with The audience “A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed”. A fantastic end to a great couple of hours! Extra dates have been added in November so get yourselves there. I might even pop along again!