When I was a teenager I used to be best friends with MTV for a few years. The TV was always on when I was doing my homework. My favourite program used to be Called MTV’s most wanted hosted by Ray Cokes. One evening in 1994, on came a song that made me put down whatever I was doing and to be totally mesmerized by what I saw and heard. The song was “when do I get to sing my way” by the band Sparks. Now I had heard of Sparks before, as 3 years earlier I had been a big Queen fan, and in one of my books about the band there was a photo of the band Sparks. But I had never heard them.
The following few evenings the song kept on coming back and it was just like nothing I had heard. A few weekends later I travelled to Stockholm in hunt of the CD. Oh how fiddly these pre internet days were, nothing were as instant as it is now. Anyway…CD in hand sitting on my floor, I felt like I had stepped into some kind of magical world. Never before had I had lyrics like that, singing like that, or music like that.
The year previous to this discovery my dad passed away, and for me music was a way of working out all issues that his death brought on. Sparks and the album “Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins” helped me escape the reality that at the time wasn’t great.
Sparks stayed with me, probably one of very few bands that have. When I moved to London in 99 I dove headlong into the synth-industrial-goth scene, and forgot a lot of the bands I had listened to as a teen. But Sparks stayed with me. I remember wanting to go see them in 2000 when the album Balls were released. But I couldn’t get the time off from work. Then I always just seemed to miss out of getting to see them live, so it wasn’t until 2008 and the 21 album Sparks spectacular gigs where I got to see them the first time. I then saw 3 gigs in a weeks time. Seeing them live after all those years was amazing, probably up there with the best gigs I have ever been to.
So when I heard they were coming to London again this year I got really excited. This time without a band and under the banner of “two hands one mouth”. The hands of course belonging to Ron and his Ronald keyboard and the mouth to Russell’s amazing falsetto voice.
The venue this time was shepherd’s bush hall, a place I had never heard of, but a rather interesting with big chandeliers hanging from the intricate ceiling which created a great atmosphere during some of the songs.
The gig was just amazing, it was being referred to as being naked, as the brothers Mael where not with a band. But it really did not sound like there were only the two of them. With that fantastic voice and that Ronald keyboard working overtime to produce some amazing sounds it all felt as orchestral as any Sparks gig I have been too. But because there were no guitars to hide behind, I think you would just hear everything else in so much more detail, and it was pretty much flawless.
There is a setlist here, I was a happy bunny as I got to hear several favorites such as Suburban homeboy, Number one song in heaven, Good morning, Dick around and of course “When do I get to sing my way” Which during it was played some crap must have fallen into my eye because I could feel them tearing up. Ermmhummm *cough cough* ….
It was a great night, and Sparks are coming back again to the UK in October, and if you don’t try to go and see them then, you are indeed a bit of an idiot!
PS I think I have just located that exact program where I first heard Sparks from, oh you amazing YouTube… watch here