02 April 2019 (gig)
03 April 2019
Considering Giorgio Moroder's undisputable status as a pioneer in electronic dance music, it's slightly disconcerting to enter the Hammersmith Apollo to see rows of seats lining the downstairs stalls area. Granted, tonight's is a largely middle-aged crowd, but what better way to warm ourselves up on a cold, wet Tuesday night than by, y'know, dancing? Hence, for much of the show, the Apollo's auditorium resembles an unfinished game of Battleships; with many a smiling, shimmying human peg (including yours truly) standing out against a cold sea of folks glancing around nervously to gauge the mood of their neighbours. The four vocalists give plenty of encouragement, but it isn't until a superb mid-set rendition of the Donna Summer classic 'I Feel Love' that the venue truly rises as one, and it's not a moment too soon.
Ultimately, though, the sense of occasion, a light show straight out of Studio 54's heyday and the sheer number of classics in Mr Moroder's arsenal all combine to make this evening a success. The cynics among us might dismiss this show as glorified karaoke, but that would be to do a huge disservice to the band, which includes a string section, two percussionists and the aforementioned vocalists. When they hit the harmonies on 'Love To Love You Baby', it's a genuine hair-raising moment, as is the sound of the crowd singing along to the instantly recognisable guitar line of 'Together In Electric Dreams'. Make no mistake, these songs provided the soundtrack to the youth of many of those present, and the elation with which they are greeted is proof enough that both they and their creator are loved.
For the most part, Giorgio himself seems content to play the sonic scientist; ensconced behind his keyboards, regaling us with tales of recording with the likes of Bowie and Blondie, and occasionally lending a hand with vocals - most notably over the bubbling synths of 'From Here To Eternity', which still sounds remarkably fresh after all these years. It's a shame that he didn't feel the need to include any songs from his excellent soundtrack to 1983 gangster flick 'Scarface' ('Push It To The Limit' would have gone down a storm), and he seems somewhat lost on the stage when he periodically ventures to the front to greet us. Again, though, tonight really is all about the songs, and the closing brace of 'Hot Stuff' and the Blondie classic 'Call Me' earn the man and his troupe no end of goodwill from a now increasingly sweaty audience.
Given that next year will be his 80th, it's doubtful as to whether there'll be another chance to see Giorgio and his band bring his songs to life again. For those here tonight, it feels like the 'Father of Disco' performing a much-deserved lap of honour after a long and fruitful career, and frankly, it's been a pleasure to join him for the ride.