Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Christmas Kitchen Disco review – the festive season starts here

<span>Photograph: John Keeble/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: John Keeble/Getty Images

Every Friday night during the first Covid-19 lockdown, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Kitchen Disco helped bring the nation back together with streamed home live performances, sequinned dresses and a disco ball. Now, the Christmas Kitchen Disco takes that spirit on the road with festive bells on. The singer, bassist husband Richard Jones and the band all wear Santa hats; there are Christmas trees on stage and the show kicks off with a sparkly version of Leroy Anderson and His Pops’ seasonal 1948 classic Sleigh Ride.

Postmodern disco bangers … Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
Postmodern disco bangers … Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Photograph: John Keeble/Getty Images

However, tragedy has struck. The singer reveals that Bianca, the large plastic horse that she was due to sit atop on stage, was “too big to get through the entrance, so she’s stuck outside”. Cue pantomime boos. It’s that kind of night, with glittery outfits, bad cracker jokes and occasionally a spinning wheel to dictate the setlist. “Oh,” she sighs when it lands on Won’t Change You, from her second album, explaining that it has “really bad lyrics in the second verse”. Accordingly, the line about her underwear is met with riotous cheering.

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.

• At Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 27 November, then touring.