Every Friday evening while the initial Covid-19 lockdown was in effect, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Kitchen Disco brought the country together with live streaming performances from her home, complete with sequined dresses and a disco ball. Now, the Christmas Kitchen Disco takes that same energy on the road with added holiday cheer. Sophie, her husband Richard Jones who plays bass, and the rest of the band all wear Santa hats; there are also Christmas trees on stage, and the show starts off with a glitzy rendition of Leroy Anderson and His Pops’ festive classic from 1948, Sleigh Ride.
Unfortunately, a tragedy has occurred. The vocalist discloses that Bianca, the oversized plastic horse that was supposed to be on stage with her, was unable to fit through the entrance and is now stuck outside. This results in the audience booing in a pantomime fashion. The evening continues in this lighthearted manner, complete with sparkly costumes, corny jokes, and occasionally a spinning wheel to determine the setlist. As fate would have it, the wheel lands on “Won’t Change You” from her second album, prompting her to comment on the unfavorable lyrics in the second verse. This leads to enthusiastic cheers from the crowd when she mentions her underwear in the line.
Ellis-Bextor never seemed entirely comfortable as the styled teen fronting indie band Theaudience, but has truly found herself as an all-smiling, high-kicking, self-deprecating showbiz entertainer. The 90-minute setlist stomps from her own postmodern disco bangers – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love), Murder on the Dancefloor, or a singalong Get Over You – to festive bankers such as Wham!’s Last Christmas or the Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping.
Her cheery voice and elevating eyebrow are perfect for Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. A joyous stomp through Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You leaves security staff battling to stop women in glittery dresses from dancing in the aisles. When the singer suddenly reappears with violinists on the balcony, shushes the crowd and sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas without a microphone, there are even shades of Vera Lynn. We’re not even out of November, but the festivities start here.