Yes, they did Flashdance
The Music of Moroder was not, it went to great lengths to point out, a performance by the legendary Italian-born/German-disco-inventing musical pioneer, but a specially-commissioned celebration of his music performed by the UK's Heritage Orchestra and special guest vocalists. Moroder himself was not on the bill – but given that he was speaking earlier that afternoon and was DJ-ing immediately afterwards, you'd assume he'd at least pop by, right?
The show, therefore, was somewhere between a tribute performance and an all-star karaoke, but was no less fun for it.
Doing this sort of thing is the Heritage Orchestra's bread and butter – they were here with Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack last year – and the arrangements were generally excellent. Some they wisely didn't mess with – such as the classic instrumental 'Chase' (from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack), while others were seriously reimagined.
Anna Calvi got two of the more radical interpretations: David Bowie's 'Cat People (Putting Out Fire)' and the timeless Irene Cara classic 'Flashdance… What a Feeling' were both slowed down significantly, the former made less strident and the latter transformed into a lilting waltz. They were interesting, sure, but not any sort of improvement.
Calvi gave a fine performance, but was comprehensively outclassed by the night's two other vocalists: Duke Spirit frontseperson Liela Moss and Shingai Shoniwa of UK indie duo the Noisettes.
Each got a big Donna Summer moment: Moss did a killer 'I Feel Love' while Shoniwa owned a sassy version of 'Love To Love You Baby', but it's hard to pick a winner. Moss killed it with her emotional rendition of Berlin's classic 'Take My Breath Away', but then Shoniwa tore the place up with Blondie's 'Call Me'. So, y'know, call it a draw.
The mix occasionally muffled the vocals, especially those of the backing trio, and the brass could have been given a bit more room in there at times – but still the sound was huge. 'I Feel Love' in particular sounded amazing with full strings and brass behind the trio of Moogs pumping away front of stage.
And then, the big not-really-a-surprise: conducter Jules Buckley welcomed the man himself on stage, to perform the spoken word 'Giorgio by Moroder' from Daft Punk's Random Access Memories (and yes, they did the click track breakdown) before Moss returned for the single encore – the cheesetacular 'Together in Electric Dreams'.
It was a joyful celebration of pop music, although some of the songs have aged better than others. But this was a gloriously fun way to round out the Opera House's Vivid Live programme for 2014.