Every Friday evening during the initial period of Covid-19 lockdown, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Kitchen Disco served as a means of uniting the nation through live streamed 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 on bass, and the rest of the band don Santa hats and there are festive Christmas trees on stage. The show begins with a glittery rendition of Leroy Anderson and His Pops’ beloved 1948 holiday hit, “Sleigh Ride.”
Unfortunately, a tragedy has occurred. The singer discloses that Bianca, the oversized plastic horse she was supposed to ride on stage, was unable to fit through the entrance and is now stranded outside. This elicits boos from the audience, setting the tone for the rest of the night which includes flashy costumes, corny jokes, and even a spinning wheel to determine the performance order. When the wheel lands on “Won’t Change You” from her second album, the singer lets out a sigh and explains that the second verse has “really bad lyrics”. As expected, the mention of her underwear receives enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.
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.
Brenda Lee’s rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is enhanced by her cheerful voice and raised eyebrow. The infectious energy of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” prompts audience members to dance in the aisles, much to the frustration of security. As a surprise, the singer returns with violinists on the balcony and captivates the crowd with her a cappella performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It’s reminiscent of the iconic Vera Lynn. The holiday spirit is in full swing, even though it’s only November.