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Concert Review: SOPHIE @ Newspeak

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A clamour of high pitched bells ring throughout the club, conversations quiet down to whispers and heads turn to the stage lit up by a dazzling tubular ceiling display. A filter sweep brings the buzz to a close, and as the last echoes ring out the club is left in a tense state of anticipation…

Warm vibrations flood the dance floor, the trance is ruptured and screams of glee break out. “We were young and out of control,” sing the still young and yet to be out of control crowd, the opening words of Sophie’s melancholic and nostalgia-inducing Just Like We Never Said Goodbye. The song is played out in full. Originally serving to close out Sophie’s debut album Product, it left the listener aching to relive memories that were never allowed to materialize. Tonight, those memories are about to be made.

The crowd chant “SOPHIE” in adoration with a soft French intonation, their calls are answered and immediately they’re dropped into a Jersey club hype track. The clubbers are more than happy to settle into a skank, but before anyone gets comfortable the pressure builds and out of nowhere Trophy rips through the dance floor and turns Newspeak upside down. A hostile Charli XCX blasts through the speakers, she’s combative threatening; “bitch I’m here to fuck you up” and there’s nowhere to turn. The scenes are chaotic, while punters will have been familiar with the tune, no one could have fathomed its impact on the club. The dancing quickly becomes erratic as revellers attempt to keep up with the twists and turns of the track. People are crashing into each other, drinks are spilt, partners switched and bodies inevitably hit the floor. Sophie is detached from all this, so sternly focussed on his performance one could easily mistake his constraint for apathy.

When dealing with such abrasive and irregular electronica the mixing can take a hit: DJ’s tend to either echo-out and hope the cued intro picks up the slack or smash the tracks together, and in the mess of the noise fade one out. Sophie does neither, instead he molds one song into the next, crushing Trophy’s heavy basslines into the infamous screech of L.O.V.E. to the delight of everyone present. This transition and those that were to follow are well thought out, dutifully practiced and creatively executed. Consequently, the energy and intensity of the set hold firm through the night.

The stellar Vyzee marks the come up for the next climax, a cacophony of plastic sounds with insanely addictive lyrics enticing the crowd to “go crazy in the pop”. Those familiar with Sophie’s Boiler Room knew what was about to occur; hearing Lemonade at home is one thing, hearing it on the McDonalds advert is another, but experiencing it live is just something else. What’s quite extraordinary about this underground anthem is that it’s actually his second most successful song about a sugary drink (see: Hey QT). In fact seeing Sophie is a lot like drinking a cold Coke on a hot summer’s day: it tastes amazing, but before you know it you’ve only got one last good sip left. Luckily that last sip is always the best.

The final act is a dizzying cocktail of Sophie’s different stylistic approaches. The club is treated to a criminally unreleased remix of GFOTY’s Friday Night, a staple of his sets and a downright nasty display of electronic minimalism. Vroom Vroom soon follows and XCX takes the clubbers on another raucous joyride, everyone euphoric to have her back. The bubbly Nothing More to Say then fizzes into the room, and, eyes glazed and grins wide, the crowd is left relishing the sugar-laced melody as Sophie quietly slips out. They never did get to say goodbye.

Review by Vicente Orts