FINALLY! 22 long years. Well I was there the last time they came to Melbourne. I remember there was lots of white balls on the stage at the Corner Hotel and I stood behind one of those pesky bloody posts. Those white balls on stage all made logical sense. As in 2001, the brothers Ron and Russell Mael were touring hot on the heels of their 18th studio album, Balls. A vibrant song that we heard in great form tonight. It was like a power punch of pop.
That was 22 long years ago. Since then SPARKS have dropped another eight albums. OHH! Let's not forget that during 2014-2015, SPARKS and FRANZ FERDINAND formed a supergroup and toured and released an album under the moniker of FFS. Ironically one of their songs was called Collaborations Don't Work. So really that is nine albums. They made an award winning musical featuring Adam Driver called Annette and one of my all time favourite movie directors, Edgar Wright made a brilliant documentary called The Sparks Brothers. It could be argued that SPARKS are no longer a cult band, with all of this recent media attention. They even performed at Glastonbury this year, where Aussie movie legend Cate Blanchett danced on stage but here we are today. The tail end of this 2023 SPARKS tour and they are finally back in Melbourne. Performing in a beautiful art deco venue in St Kilda, almost four times bigger that last time when I saw them in Richmond. For this happy chappy, it was definitely worth the wait.
With Russell Mael announcing "So Melbourne! May we start?" and his brother Ron seated in front of his RONALD keyboard under a spotlight, they kick off the show with this magical song from their Annette musical.
What an opening! The effervescent Russell is in fine form vocally. Energetically leaping about on the stage. Wearing the stage costume from his Glasonbury performance - a half black and red jacket, red carnation in his lapel, black pants with vibrant Converse Chuck 70 Red Sole black sneakers. Next up SPARKS perform the title track from their latest album, The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte. They would play a few more songs from that album tonight including Escalator, Nothing Is As Good As They Say It Is, We Go Dancing and Gee, That Was Fun.
There are numerous highlights on the night. Ron Mael hilarious deadpan banter during Shopping Mall Of Love. Then of course there was a completely out of character dance moves by Ron during their massive DISCO hit that was co-written by electro-disco producer Giorgio Moroder, The Number One Song In Heaven. We get to enjoy some true SPARKS classics, such as When I'm With You, When Do I Get To Sing My Way and their Kimono My House smash hit single, This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us.
In a heartfelt gesture, they thanked the audience and said they would be back and we don't have to wait another 22 years. I thought to myself, "GEE, THAT WAS FUN!"
iPhone Photography by CarbieWarbie
SPARKS at the Palais Theatre at the 26th Oct 2023
1. So May We Start
2. The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte
3. Angst In My Pants
4. Beaver O'Lindy
5. When I'm With You
6. Nothing Is As Good As They Say It Is
7. It Doesn't Have To Be That Way
9. Shopping Mall Of Love
10. The Toughest Girl In Town
12. We Go Dancing
13. Bon Voyage
14. Music That You Can Dance To
15. When Do I Get To Sing "My Way"
16. The Number One Song In Heaven
17. This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us
18. Gee, That Was Fun
19. My Baby's Taking Me Home
20. All That