It’s strange to think that the Large Hadron Collider experiments at the European Centre For Nuclear Research in Geneva could have brought an untimely end to all existence as we know it. Stranger still, in the moments running up to it, everyone bar a few paranoid freaks would be buying loo paper or emptying the bins, unaware of the impending doom. In a comparable instance of ignorance, tonight’s assembled crowd of glad-ragged care-free Saturday night revellers don’t even seem aware of what night they’re at, or what act they’re about to witness, let alone the dancefloor apocalypse that Heartbreak’s Italo-disco renaissance has been reaping upon the planet.
As the UK’s premier exponents of refurbed early-’80s synth-pop melodrama take the stage, tonight stripped of trademark white linen suits, it is with a strut of unassuming self-assurance. Starting with their most ambitious work to date, the seven-minute serenade to all discos past, ‘Akin To Dancing’, it’s not hard to see why such a geeky cult is achieving such newfound resonance. Like the collector’s box of original Italo anthems that precedes them, and unlike some so-called nu-Italo pretenders, this is the antithesis of cool. It’s a no-holds-barred, unapologetic assault of heart-wrenching emotion and dancefloor flamboyance.
Echoing one of the few Italo UK chart hits, Baltimora’s 1985 track ‘Tarzan Boy’, the ape wails of ‘Don’t Lose My Time’ signal the curtain call on Sebastian Muravchix’s next onstage persona. From the ill-fated wartime dictator we glimpse at the start, the track’s aquatic electro thrusts bring about a frenzy of death-defying gyration from the Argentinean. The sharply poised jive is charged with a fury left over from his metal-moshing past. All sidekick producer Ali can do is knowingly smile at his Korg as the Sebastian show rages on to choruses of elated gasps.
Next the marauding synth-doom of ‘Regret’ sees an outer-stellar space serpent possess the frontman, his beady glare and hissing tongue snapping from his spiv-tached mug. Before all their first loves – metal, pile-driving techno, seedy electro, and of course, Italo – are corkscrewed together for a cranium-crushing finale of their signature song. As if to balance the quivering glee of their twinklier moments, ‘We’re Back’’s kick-drums hit the crowd like sonic booms. Never mind Swiss particle-smashing experiments, dungeon-disco opened black holes tonight.