The Sage Gateshead has seen its fair share of grand sinfonias throughout its history. But tonight pop meets classical under the roof of this majestic concert hall.

Throughout her long and successful history, Sophie Ellis Bextor has covered a vast musical landscape. From her early days fronting indie rock outfit The Audience, through to disco hits with Spiller and Mojo as well as her established pop career spanning numerous solo albums.

As an artist you can’t stand still you’ve got to keep moving and pushing your creative boundaries to keep things fresh and interesting for both yourself and your fans alike. And that is exactly what Sophie has done with her latest offering. Revisiting and interpreting her tried and tested hits and favourites with classical orchestration.

So for tonight’s show on Tyneside not only is Sophie joined by her band, but also by a full orchestra, who help to give these timeless compositions a new lease of life.

Tonight’s concert is very much a show of two halves. The first part of the evening delves into the orchestral side of Sophie’s repertoire. And what better room to host such an event than Hall One at Sage Gateshead or as it’s known by Sophie and her fan’s ‘Sagey Baby’. This being a majestic and acoustically perfect location for a magical evening of music. This evening’s show comes hot off the back of a recent appearance at the London Palladium.

And what better way to start the night than with a spellbinding rendition of Groovejet, only this time around it’s savoured by the patrons who have sat attentively, rather than getting them up on their feet – but of course, that moment will come in due course later in the night.

Songs such as Wild Flower and Young Blood come to life in this format. The strings within the orchestra add a beautiful texture to each track in the orchestral set. Whereas Love Is A Camera, feels as though it could have come straight out of a vintage Hollywood movie.

A few more of Sophie’s reworked pop classics such as a joyous rendition of Music Gets The Best of Me and the brooding Mixed Up World ushers the packed out Gateshead crowd into the disco set.

Leaving the stage, momentarily for a mid-set costume change, the orchestra plays on until the star of the show returns bedecked in a shimmering pink feathered dress as she takes the crowd home, quite literally with a string of back to back floor-filling anthems.

Hall One at the Sage Gateshead is a difficult room to conquer. Being all seated, it sometimes takes a lot of encouragement to get the crowd up on their feet. But for Sophie Ellis Bextor, this proves to be no problem at all. And with a gigantic mirror ball suspended above the stage, the whole room including the balconies wholeheartedly dance along to the sounds of Heartbreak, Murder On The Dancefloor along with disco classics such as Young Hearts Run Free and Don’t Leave Me This Way. There is even room for a second airing of Groovejet, only this time in its original format.

However, the crowd were not quite prepared for what happened next. Appearing from up on the balcony Sophie delivered an acapella rendition of A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed, rather fittingly performed from deep in the heart of The Audience. A stunning way to close the proceedings.

This evening’s show brought together the perfect marriage of classical and contemporary music. Not only was it creative, innovative and sometimes nostalgic, but it was also incredibly enjoyable.

 

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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