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Music The much anticipated set ends in disappointment as Sophie fails to live up to the hype

MELTDOWN FESTIVAL I SOPHIE
Royal Festival Hall
★★★

 

ONE of the most anticipated artists to perform at Southbank’s Meltdown festival this year Sophie (pictured) takes electronic pop to whole new levels, borrowing equally from the jarring beats of Warp acts like Aphex Twin and Autechre to the mellifluous harmonies of a Madonna vocal.

The elusive talent, who rarely gives interviews, seems to favour anonymity over the limelight despite her flamboyant appearance and releasing tunes since 2013.

Tonight is no different. Following an extolling introduction from Rodgers himself, who describes her as one of the greatest producers today, Sophie is happy to hide behind her synths and let a dancer take centre stage.

For better or worse the performance feels more like a piece of visual theatre than a gig of live music. Indeed, to the ire of her die-hard fans she steers away from her biggest tunes, including Faceshopping, in favour of relative unknowns.

This is not to say she doesn’t live up to Rodger’s kind words. Sophie has an utterly unique sound, whether you recognise the tunes or not, and the eerie layering of her melodies arguably makes her the only artist who manages to make pop sound frightening.

As if to match the unnerving sound, a spooky set design lends a gothic horror tone to the proceedings as the zombie-like dancer moves impressively under a bank of slime green light. Flitting so suddenly between upbeat and mellow, much of the crowd appear to be unable to decide whether to sit down or dance. Some merely stand awkwardly.

However, the promising start fails to deliver a pay off and the stunted hour-long set leaves much to be desired. Returning the favour, Sophie plays out with a version of Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out, written and produced by Rodgers and fellow Chic member Bernard Edwards.

Yet as pleasant a finale as this is, more than a few leave feeling short-changed.

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