26 Leake Street is a brand new multi-purpose venue under the railway arches by Waterloo Station. The larger venue will hold over a thousand people at capacity but tonight I’m in the more intimate settings of the adjacent bar to see Italia 90. If their name conjures painful memories of Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missing penalties, then their visceral sound might be just the thing you need to expend that latent anger.
Italia 90 are a frankly excellent live band, the kind of act that demand attention from the moment they arrive on stage. It’s forty or so minutes of searing post-punk, a kind of soaring amalgamation of Crass and The Clash, where guitars flutter and stab at you and the words come flying out at a wild yet tempered pace. As the lights came down for the opening piece, the front of the stage filled quickly. Italia 90 have a clear and very dedicated following who make a point of careering into each other throughout the evening, with bodies blurring together in a flurry of arms and legs. Energy is high for ‘New Factory’, the opening track off of their most recent release Italia 90 II – “I can do whatever I wanna do new factory” flies out the speakers around the time I was considering whether or not to get another pint in – the words struck a chord and over to the bar I went.
This kind of pure defiance seems to stand at the heart of Italia 90. They represent something sorely lacking in British music today – a sense of otherness. They are the colloquial outsider, the rogue we all champion and they sound fucking marvellous. Every stab, every hit, every chord is note perfect. It’s the sound of a band that plays together as much as they possibly can. No half-arsed behaviour here.
If you happen to be glancing over the listings at your favourite music establishment and the words ‘Italia 90’ catch your eye be sure to follow through and see them play. They won’t be gracing the intimate settings of the 26 Leake Street bar for much longer and being right up close to them is a must.
Review and Photography by Alexander Sarychkin