Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Finally, 43 Years Later - Sparks in Concert

I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard 'This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us'  in 1974. I can also vividly remember arguing with another kid in a school playground about the merits of the song - I said that it was amazing and unlike any pop record I'd ever heard, but he didn't like it at all. Funnily enough, this strange Sparks-related Marmite effect continues in my life to this day, as Mrs S reacts to their music in much the same way as most people would do to nails scraping down a blackboard.

43 years on from being blown away by 'This Town...', 'Kimono My House', 'Propaganda' and all the many great records that followed, I finally saw Sparks in concert in Norwich on Monday evening. Ron and Russell's total confidence in their new album is evident and justified. The band liberally scattered a full seven songs from 'Hippopotamus' throughout the set, where they blended in seamlessly with the older, more familiar material. Those of us of a certain age felt ourselves welling up throughout 'Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth', then threw ourselves around like we were 14 again during 'This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us' and 'Amateur Hour'. Crucially though, the new stuff was every bit as good. 'What the Hell Is It This Time?', 'I Wish You Were Fun' and the title track itself are all up there with their very best work.

I can thoroughly recommend 'Hippopotamus' and if the current Sparks tour wends its way to your town, do not hesitate - buy a ticket. I can't remember the last time I smiled so much during a gig.


11 comments:

TheRobster said...

I've only listened to the new album once through so far but can concur with what you say. It's a most enjoyable listen. MrsRobster and I have become belated fans of Sparks and would definitely go to see them if they came anywhere near our neck of the woods. Alas, they're not...

charity chic said...

I take it your good lady didn't join you?

Brian said...

Your review is a smile as well. Happy to hear the new album sits so well with the rest of the band's stellar discography. It's on the (lengthy) list.

Echorich said...

I'll see them in London a week from now and I can't wait. It has been too many decades and by all accounts this will be one to remember.
The new album is kind of unbelievable in how strong it is and how "Sparksian" their sound remains.

The Swede said...

TheRobster. Hopefully, if the album continues to sell well, the band will return for more dates and they'll head out in your direction.

Charity Chic. If you only knew how long it took me to stop laughing after reading your comment!

Brian. It's well worth tracking down - it's very good indeed.

Echorich. I agree, it's almost as if they've rediscovered their core sound. Enjoy the show!

Alyson said...

Gosh 43 years on - Who would have thought back then they would still be going. Glad you enjoyed it so much. As for Ron - Now that was/is a look!

The Swede said...

Alyson. As Ron has aged, he's undoubtedly grown into his chosen look.

George said...

%0% of the people in this hotel room like the hippopotamus song!

George said...

50%.

Rol said...

I'd go see Sparks if they played within a 5 mile radius of me and the tickets were under £30. If that sounds like too many conditions, it's pretty much the same criteria I apply to all gigs these days, Bruce excepted.

I agree that This Town... is unlike any other pop song ever written, but I always loved it for that.

Chris said...

Glad you finally got to see the band live and even better than it was a joyous experience! I tried the new Sparks LP based on the praise in the press, I just couldn't get into it at all. Similar to your wife's reaction, I found it unbearable to listen to. That said, I do enjoy a few of their older songs, so think I'll stick to those.

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