Anyone for a game of bingo ? There can be few fates more ignominious than becoming a bingo hall for a once proud concert venue, but that is what has become of the Teatro Espero in Rome, another staging post of the Sisters’ 1985 Italian tour.
The Espero had been built in 1953 as a cultural focal point of a new neighbourhood of the capital as it spread further and further into its seven hills, and Sisters fans would have had quite a trek out into the subuebs to the Monte Sacro district to see the band behind the rather unprepossessing façade "behind the mid-street petrol station" (not quite as glamorous as "above the chemist") on what is now known as the via Nomentano Nuova, but which was originally called the via di Ponte Tazio (just to confuse any keyboard researcher).
On May 2nd 1985 the band were again in great form for a three-piece as they adjusted to life after Marx, and the performances were all the more remarkable as they were clearly just fulfilling contractual obligations : the band had already decided to split with Von continuing to sail the ship alone, as this remarkable interview originally published in the Italian magazine Il Mucchio Selvaggio (and now posted by the interviewer Federico Guglielmi on his blog) will attest.
The Sisters gig that night was recorded for several high quality bootlegs, including Black Planet and the picture disc “We’re All Aware Of That”, most of which can be found on YouTube nowadays.
Many other bands followed on from the first gigs at the Cinema Teatro Espero which formed the First Italian Punk Rock Festival which took place rather belatedly in 1980, and featured a live performance from Cap’n Sensible. Wall of Voodoo, Christian Death and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (correctly named by Eldritch in the interview as the best of their contemporaries) also played the venue in the mid-80’s, as well as a legendary gig from metallers Mercyful Fate (which I'm glad I didn't attend judging by the hopefully embellished web accounts), but the venue closed and became a clothing shop of the well-known VISA brand in Rome in the 90s before turning into the Bingo Espero Palace, a role it sadly retains today, as can be seen in the photo. Hang on, isn't that a Mercedes parked on the right outside the hall ???