SOPHIE has remained an enigma for so long that it feels like a mirage to even see her on stage. Tonight’s venue is Heaven, an iconic gay club nestled just underneath the arches of Charing Cross station; in its cavernous main room, London DJ Kamixlo puts the finishing touches to a high-octane DJ set and quietly exits. “Is that it?” My friend asks, confused. It’s 10pm which, for most gigs, would mean things were beginning to wind down – especially given the notorious noise complaints slowly culling the capital’s best live venues.
But the night is just getting started. 10 minutes later, thunderous bass wobbles announce SOPHIE’s emergence. Gone is any semblance of comfortable clothing, replaced instead by a skin tight latex dress slashed to the thigh and teamed with a matching cap, which hides her tight red curls.
This choice of stage costume echoes her fascination with textures and materials; in her hands, undulating synths mimic the frenetic frequency of a snapped elastic band, whereas pitch-shifted vocals bounce atop beats like balloons. Unsurprisingly, these frenzied soundscapes translate seamlessly into a live setting, building on top of one another at steadily increasing tempos until the entire crowd is thrashing like one giant, rhythmic wave.
Impressively, SOPHIE seems to alter her outfit a little with every song. When she re-emerges with a pale pink clip-on ponytail, the crowd erupts. Without missing a beat, she performs the elaborate gymnastics of the Ponyboy choreography while the track’s sledgehammer drops and looped vocals ring throughout the building. Recent release Faceshopping is met with similar hysteria; serving as a simple yet effective commentary on artificiality in the digital age, the track is accompanied by videos of a CGI SOPHIE’s face being stretched, distorted and squashed in time with the beat. Then there’s new track Immaterial Girls, best described as a dystopian rave track with a relentless tempo.
The night reaches its emotional climax with fan favourite It’s Okay To Cry, a tender, vulnerable electronic ballad which sees SOPHIE utilise her own vocals as opposed to recruiting a guest. The single also marks the first instance of the star allowing herself to be fully visible in a music video; tonight she does the same, as the lasers drop and the spotlight illuminates her face. She may be at her best when manipulating beats and toying with the notion of any ‘real’ identity, but these short moments of transparency are just as entrancing.