Sophie Ellis-Bextor is one of the last of the great originals. While every other diva with a gay following has hopped from trend to trend, the high-cheekboned goddess has stayed true to the refined and distinctly English dance-pop sound that brought her to fame in 2000 as the voice of Spiller's "Groovejet". That, unfortunately, comes with its own set of disadvantages - like having no hits - but it also explains her fiercely loyal fanbase. And gives the beautiful Brit's music a timeless quality that sets her apart. I've been a big fan of Sophie's since the early days and turned into something of a super-stan during the criminally underrated "Shoot From The Hip" era ("Nowhere Without You" is one of my all-time favourite songs). That enthusiasm has wavered somewhat since then but news of her Australian tour of gay nightclubs inspired me to revisit her recent material and after last night's half-hour set, I'm well and truly back on the SEB bandwagon.
The 32-year-old glamour puss pranced onto the tiny Home nightclub stage shortly after one a.m. in a sequined dress and instantly charmed the adoring crowd by saying how happy she was to be back in Australia after a 9 year break. It seemed appropriate then that she kick off with the lead single from her debut album - a Cher cover, no less! - and belted out a slinky rendition of "Take Me Home" (below). Her voice was surprisingly strong and her complete and utter inability to dance allows her to interact with the crowd while singing. So there were a lot of waves and high fives to go around. Next up was "Music Gets The Best Of Me" (has it really been 9 years since that gem conquered radio?), which was followed by last year's #165 UK smash "Not Giving Up On Love". It speaks volumes for Sophie's popularity in the gay community that everyone knew the words and sang along as if it were an "Only Girl (In The World)"-sized hit.
Hearing 2009's epic "Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)" live was something of a spiritual experience for me, as was her ridiculously camp version of Baccara's "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie". The chic songbird even swung her hips around in an endearing attempt at choreography! It was fun but unnecessary. I was completely mesmerised by her glamorous presence - there really is something otherworldly about her exquisite angles and luminous skin. A sing-a-long version of "Get Over You" reminded me how much I love her debut and she then brought it right back to the beginning with a glorious take on "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)". After promising to come back to our shores soon and shaking hands with most of the front row, SEB belted out her signature tune "Murder On The Dancefloor". Time hasn't wearied the brilliance of that song or its composer. Sophie is a veritable pop treasure and deserves better than just being big in Russia. She makes the music world an infinitely classier place and for that I thank her and promise to keep importing her singles and albums from random locations in Eastern Europe.