Sophie Ellis-Bextor delivers an unabashedly feelgood echo of lockdown (yes, really)

There was curiously little difference in energy levels between Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s performances in her kitchen to her phone screen during lockdown, and her performance to a packed-out London Palladium on Wednesday night – which serves only to compliment her weekly Kitchen Disco live streams, rather than criticise their on-stage iteration.

Lockdown seemed a faraway concept amid the exuberant crowd on the final night of her UK tour, but it’s clear that nobody had forgotten the indisputable joy of those weekly live-streamed concerts. In them, she seamlessly integrated pop stardom – costume changes, high heels, and all – with the chaos of parenthood in lockdown, her five sons swarming in and out of the frame each week. These makeshift shows swiftly became a national tonic, watched by thousands and perhaps the only celebrity lockdown content worth preserving.

“This could be the end of my career,” she joked at the end of the first livestream back in March 2020. Quite the opposite. The shows spawned a Top 10 greatest hits album, podcast, memoir, and now a tour. With husband Richard Jones (of The Feeling fame) on bass duty, their children appearing as impromptu backing dancers, and mother Janet Ellis in the audience, the London show retained much of the Kitchen Disco’s home spirit. The setlist operated along similar lines too: Ellis-Bextor’s own material interspersed with covers that ran the gamut of familiar crowd-pleasers, including Abba, Lionel Richie, The Trammps, and Hot Chip.

And though the audience initially appeared more kitchen than disco, it wasn’t long before everyone had risen from their seats. The show was buoyed by a crowd diverse in age and dance moves, yet united in their adoration for Ellis-Bextor. Her own songs earned the loudest responses. Rather than an unwanted reminder of lockdown life, the night was a reminder of the 20-year recording career of a perennially-underrated artist whose louche, cut-glass vocals defined the early noughties.

It was gratifying to see her back-catalogue receive the love it deserves, from Murder On the Dancefloor and Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) – her breakthrough solo hit with DJ Spiller in 2000 – to deeper cuts, a new song she described as “Abba on crack”, and her brilliant cover of Alcazar’s Crying at the Discotheque.

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