Live: IAMXTREMELYCONVINCED. IAMX, Tunnel Milano.

The proposal of a prodigal Sneaker Pimp-turned-electro stalwart pulsatingly pummelling 90s rave reminiscent of abrasive Aberdeen (emphasis most certainly on “mentalist”) experimentalists The Shamen, the grandiose guitars of Muse and the heavenly haunts of Sarah McLachlan into a strobe-soaked hour and a half in a trashy Milanese railroad tunnel is intriguing at best. The reality that Chris Corner, aka IAMX manages to pull off such seemingly genre-bending blasphemy with such vigour is quite simply ephemeral. Trading in Britain for Berlin to avoid the grotty bogs and mires of sedated East London scenes, Corner is quite conceivably an outcast in almost every sense imaginable and this becomes fairly painstakingly evident as proceedings unravel themselves in a chaotically cacophonic aural onslaught tonight. As anticipation builds and buzzes throughout Milan’s Tunnel Club as minimalist Kraut keys boom from bass-heavy speaker stacks, the venue’s usual sick-smeared stage is transformed into an off-kilter thrilling theatrical masterpiece, adorned with ancient Roman busts, glimmering gold rocking horses, a canvas erupting with modern art explosions, and flanked by vacant Venetian masks as flickering light bulbs burn dimly overhead. Corner eventually emerges amidst a spluttering of smoke and a circus-like ambience is instantly induced in front of his adoring Italian outsiders, decked out in more leather than half a Download Festival and pierced more thoroughly than Cheryl Cole’s battered heart. Swaggering about like Johnny Depp minus a pint or two of blood, the smoky vocals of Nature of Inviting, with its abrasive refrain of “I love you, I hate you”, recall the heralded heroin-stained Depeche Mode of decades past, whilst The Alternative retrospect late Trent Reznor tracks, laced with a surreptitiously murderous chorus. In fact, Corner also relatively reflects Reznor in demeanour, were he brought up on burlesque cabaret and endearingly na├»ve shards of intriguing imagination as opposed to venomous self-destruction and truck-loads of illegal substance. Elsewhere, presumably to evade Jason Derulo’s disastrous desecration of Hide & Seek currently consuming commercial radios throughout the western world, Imogen Heap emerges from the shadowed sidelines to duet devastatingly on My Secret Friend, delivering hallucinatory howls, before the bruised balladry of I Am Terrified unites histrionics and amateur theatrics quite wondrously. Set against the vitriolic vices of Kiss & Swallow, Corner’s cowering behind a Venetian mask holds substantial significance, endowing him with a schizophrenic split-persona, torn between Dresden Dolls dramatics, retro rave and eerie industrial tones all the while concealing the true emotion and identity behind one of Britain’s lost reclusive genii.

Photo courtesy of Sam Seager.