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Live Review: Sophie Ellis-Bextor w/ DJ Lemz @ 9:30 Club — 6/3/24

In 2001, British siren Sophie Ellis-Bextor released her debut solo album, Read My Lips, and it did rather well in her native United Kingdom and not so bad in most of the Western world.

It largely went unnoticed in the USA, however, which was too bad, as Sophie is a wonderful performer, a true disco maven, and an entertaining spirit. Her American fortunes changed in 2023, when the dark comedy film Saltburn used her debut album’s second single, “Murder on the Dancefloor,” in the movie’s ridiculous closing scene, celebrating the main character’s macabre achievements. And thus, Sophie quickly lit up the ears of Americans who suddenly realized they were missing out on more than 20 years of great music.

Capitalizing on this momentum, Sophie booked a USA tour — her first! — which included a recent sold-out date at 9:30 Club in DC.

On June 3, Sophie and her three bandmates hit 9:30 Club stage ready to shine and shine they did. The band included Sophie’s longtime husband, Richard Jones, on bass, and his career with the band The Feeling previously brought Sophie to 9:30 Club once before in 2007 as a spectator.

This time, Sophie was the main attraction, and the full house ate up her happy-go-lucky demeanor, which seemed naturally paired with the reality of being a hardworking mother of five children! Having a family did not diminish Sophie’s energy, and she kicked up a storm as she strutted across the stage and twirled in time to an assortment of nu-disco tunes and a few key covers.

The end sequence of course was the highlight of the show as Sophie readily delivered “Murder on the Dancefloor” to close her main set.

Watch the official music video for “Murder on the Dancefloor” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor on YouTube:

After “Murder,” Sophie returned for a two-song encore, which included “Bittersweet” from her 2011 album, Make a Scene, and “A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed” by Theaudience, a ’90s Britpop band where Sophie got her start. Theaudience released one self-titled full-length album in 1998, and “A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed” was taken from that record. At 9:30 Club, Sophie sang the number from the balcony, near the back of the music hall, and without a microphone! She sang it along the rail as if she were just hanging out at the club, which imparted a sweet poignancy to the song.

There were many of us at 9:30 Club who knew Sophie and her music prior to Saltburn, if not at the start of her career then for Kitchen Disco, a pandemic lockdown series of performances that Sophie delivered from her house via social media. Earlier in the night, Sophie’s concert paid homage to those days. She spun a colorful wheel situated next to her drummer to pull a song into the set, resulting in the addition of “Mixed Up World” from her 2003 album, Shoot from the Hip, to the show.

A la Kitchen Disco, Sophie also sang a few popular covers, performing Cher’s “Take Me Home” early in the set and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” late in the concert. The Cher song fit naturally among her songs, and Sophie earnestly rendered “Like a Prayer” with a clear and powerful voice. Everyone in the house sang along, of course! More cover tunes crept into the show in a medley at the two-thirds mark, when Sophie sang a popular mix that included REO Speedwagon and ABBA.

Sophie was a true sensation, long overdue for her moment on USA stages, and it was wholly remarkable to witness this circuitous yet well-deserved victory lap! Sophie’s US dates are done for now, although she has a show in Toronto on June 8. And she returns for some more USA dates in September.

Catch Sophie Ellis-Bextor on tour! 

DC’s DJ Lemz opened the show, and he got the crowd grooving with a smooth mix of house music. Here are a few photos of Lemz at the turntable to open the show at 9:30 Club on June 3!


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I photographed Sophie’s performance as well, but I had activated silent shutter on my Sony camera, and this contributed to significant banding in the photos. This was not a known issue for me, as I do not usually shoot in silent mode, and so it was a hard lesson learned. Apologies, Sophie!

And so here are some photos of Sophie Ellis-Bextor performing at 9:30 Club on June 3, 2024.

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