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introZeche, Bochum, Germany
17th October 2012
Sparks - acoustic

During their “Two Hands, One Mouth“ tour, SPARKS were playing four shows in Germany, the last oft hem being Bochum. Anyone thinking of SPARKS will probably remember ‘When do I get to sing My Way‘ from the mod nineties and after last night’s show, this song still is sticking in my head as I am writing this article…

SPARKS, the band of brothers Ron & Russell Mael, has quite some history. The still active Pop / Electro-Pop band was founded back end of the sixties in Los Angeles as HALFNELSON together with guitarist Earle Mankey. Later, the band renamed to SPARKS. The band was completed by Mankey’s brother Jim in bass and drummer Halrey A. Feinstein. They released their debut album in 1971, being commercially not very successful, and also second album ‘A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing’ in 1972 did not bring the big breakthrough. During a tour through Europe, Island Records put its eye onto the band and brother Mael moved to England in 1973, recruited new musicians and produced the masterpiece ‘Kimono My House’. That should be enough info from the first years. After it was silent around the band for many years, they came back with the album ‘Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins’ in 1994 containing aforementioned hit single ‘When do I get to sing My Way‘. To celebrate their 21st studio album ‘Exotic Creatures of the Deep’, the band performed ALL of their albums live in London in 2008. In August 2009, Swedish radio presented a new radio-musical ‘The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman’. This was the last new piece of the band so far, currently consisting of brothers Mael only.It was presented as live performance later on in June 2011 at the Los Angeles Film Festival with help of several actors. / /


Music & Performance
Even though the history of SPARKS is big, the band even has much more to offer. Now, Ron and Russell Mael analyze songs from their huge repertoire and interpret them in a new way. For the first time in the band’s history, the brothers are touring all alone as duo, just with help of voice and keyboard. A brave decision of the brother! During the past, SPARKS live shows became bigger and complex and more spectacular. In 2008, they performed on 21 evenings in London to perform, as already mentioned, all of their 21 albums. Today, more than 40 years after the release of their debut album, SPARKS were presenting a selection of their songs in a very pure way. Moving away from elaborate productions, SPARKS were revealing the essence of their songs. Pervasive lyrics and incomparable melodies, Russell’s voice and Ron’s keyboard play were stepping into the foreground. That was really all the duo needed for an unforgettable evening. And it indeed was unforgettable. Even though the venue was just half filled, people were excited by the things the duo had to offer. Especially Russell’s way of singing was so extraordinary, diversified and yet perfect! It was just a pity that the set was rather short with less than 90 minutes. But it was a great experience with my favourites ‘Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth’ which I always wanted to hear in original version since I was rather familiar with the Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) cover version, and of course ‘When Do I Get to Sing My Way’ ending the main set.


Another highlight were surely the excerpts from the ‘The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman’. Very advanced piece of art which was highly acclaimed by the audience. But there were more highlights in the show… be it rather calm ‘Sherlock Holmes’ or catchy ‘This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us’ where people were constantly clapping, or even ‘The Rhythm Thief’ with its Sprechgesang. Of course there had to be encores. With three additional songs, last one being the title song of the tour, ‘Two Hands, One Mouth’, the band released happy people into the night.

01. Two Hands, One Mouth Overture
02. Hospitality on Parade
03. Metaphor
04. Propaganda (halfway, Ron terminated to the next song)
05. At Home, At Work, At Play
06. Sherlock Holmes
07. Good Morning
08. Under the Table With Her
09. My Baby's Taking Me Home
10. Singing in the Shower
11. The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael
12. Excerpts from The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman
13. Dick Around
14. Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth
15. This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us
16. The Rhythm Thief
17. Suburban Homeboy
18. When Do I Get to Sing "My Way"
19. The Number One Song in Heaven
20. Beat the Clock
21. Two Hands, One Mouth

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.5 / 10


All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( / / /

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