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Glasgow March 24th !!!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aussie wrote:
just watched it, and what a great show

I think people have to remember Russell is no spring chicken, I saw sparks 41 years ago at the Liverpool empire, that also was a great show

Don't think it's Russel's voice by any means that is being mentioned. He does an amazing job with very hard notes to reach and yes he's no spring chicken but he is still fit and full of bundles of energy to master a Sparks show. I don't know how he does it with a world tour coming up too.
It was a great show though and a fantastic launch for Hippo. It was more comments on the way a couple of songs could have been even better which was a sound issue and edits to DA. I've no doubt that a whole new generation of Sparks fans were recruited over the weekend and I think this year is going to be a very successful time for the guys. They certainly seem to be finally getting the recognition and respect they are well overdue. A whole live set on national TV is a major first for Sparks. Not counting the FFS Glastonbury gig of course which I think started a kind of new interest in Sparks to those that weren't around in the early years like we were. We are the lucky ones to have been there from the start.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several mates, who sadly had to watch the show at home, have sent private messages asking for my thoughts on Friday’s show.

A thrilling and rewarding night was enjoyed on Friday. I am truly grateful for being there amongst so many friends. I haven’t been long enough on anything internet to have studied the film footage so my recollection may be flawed but it is pure.

Characteristic of being a Sparks fan is being delighted with unexpected moments of wonder, heart-warming appreciation, and of awe. And Friday night was one of them. Sparks were on a bill with two impressive acts unafraid to explore conventional boundaries. It also was a special night with Sparks launching new unheard music. Always evolving are Sparks. You never know what you’re going to get, only that it’ll be excellent. Each Sparks album presents a quantum leap. Futhermore, what added to the specialness was that the two bands were huge fans of Sparks.

Previously having tried to re-read my typically long-winded review of the inaugurual FFS gig, which contained an uninteresting attempt an an objective summary of Scottish identity politics, steered me away from wanting replicate mentioning such matters. Moreover, the situation in Sparks home country has become even more tumultuous and there seems to be tremors of unpredicability throughout the world. Having a bit topical fun introducing frisky Future Islands, Mark Radcliffe managed to generate a bored boo for Brexit and an awfully ambiguous groan for Indyref2. We just wanted to ROCK ROCK ROCK!

Singer Samuel T Herring was clearly in touch with the vibe, commenting on the potency of Tennents’ Super, (normally found beside sleeping bags on Glasgow’s pavements than inside artists’ dressing rooms). Then he was paying tribute to inspirational Sparks with a degree of heart-thumping sincerity that was carried into his performance.

Kicking off -and boy they kicked off - Future Islands were enlivening. Like few others, but like Sparks, in their hard earned 15 minutes for fame on TV, they had created a volcanic rupture of viewer astonishment, which now resonates throughout youtube. And, volcanic rumbling is how excitable singer Samuel T Herring’s voice pitched down to the death-metal depths of, schizo-like from high cracking emotion. Red hot this band were. It was hard to discern how much of his emotional tantrum was singing far less identify lyrics. But man, this was a front man like no other. Unhinged, banging his powerful alpha male chest with an even more powerful blow, while sounding like a lovesick teenager with creaky door broken voice. “He’s like the Tasmanian Devil from Bugs Bunny!” remarked the nice bloke from Fife, sitting transfixed to my right shoulder. Next Simon T H was hunched like chimp. Agility so unfathomable I haven’t seen since Max Wall. An escalation of energy infected the crowd and this rampant band seemed to be tapping it, fuelling it back into their performance.

Thundering out enough rhythm hard from a single bass that would overpower any guitar trio was William Cashion, whose fingers ought to have been all crocodile skin had they not been so nimble. Meantime, melodiousness was coming from busy Gerrit Welmers keyboard kit. And clearly, the crowd had been taking note giving a succession of loud roars to the likes of, now familiar, Seasons (Waiting for You). I think it was during this song, a dive by Sam onto a floor amp was worthy of an Old Firm goalie.

But live is how you should experience it, so look up their tour page NOW.

On the balcony, we saw some familiar faces from Scottish media. Looking magnetically more youthful than his fictional character was Sanjeev Kholi famous as Navid, the world sardonic sage of a shopkeeper from BBC TV’s comedy “Still Game”; its stage show proved popular enough to sell a week at the massive Hydro.

To cheers, Sparks smartly entered. Decked in familiar horizontal stripes was the slender, Russell, whose boyishly attractive contenance looked perfectly at ease, as he strode across the stage as if it was his vacation yatch. Flanked he was by a fresh band drawn largely from Mini-Mansions and other noteworthy bands, but uniformly together also in sailor chic attire. Looking like a government inspector who had somehow come on board, sat Ron, stern at his keyboard. Beginning with “At Home, At Work, At Play”, from top ten hit album, Propaganda, the band sounded initially a little reserved compared to previous incarnations of heavy rockers.

Next was a jump forward to the noughties with Good Morning. With heedful glances behind to the seasoned Spark, Steve Nistor drumming, the new guys of the band were getting in the swing. And sounding good.

When Do I Get to Sing My Way from Sparks’ 90s comeback after immersion in a Hollywood movie project always delivers a welcome. A line-up with three good contributing backing vocalists was really taking Sparks’ sound somewhere hot.

What the Hell Is It This Time? A broody existentialist new number with a piano rythmn as foreboding as Russell’s vocals, which handling repititive reinforcing lyrics, had the feel of a chorus from some dark scene in an opera. If this is just a taste, how magnificient is this album going to be… ?

Hippopotomas, the quirky title track of the new album, an extravagance of long words, almost child-like in tongue-twisting quality backed with shrieking strings. How does Russsell remember all these words? A grand kit of drums befitted the massive talent of Steve Nistor, 21x21 hero, for whom this uncharacteristic rythmn for Sparks was replicated with typically adaptability, precision and verve.

Dick Around sounded epic, even in its shortened form. With its frequent changes of pace, even in its condensed version, it is a challenging song to play. And, no one rehearses harder than Sparks - I’ve heard this from various band members over the years. Sparks’ best song was how I marvelled on first play. Then came the disappointment that its British release was frustrated by being banned by the BBC. Of course, I prefer the long version. I’m glad this stunning song was politely defiantly part of the BBC set. The audience looked stunned.

Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth from thirty years previous went down well. I recall being in the hall eleven years previous at the fantastic “Hello Young Lovers” concert, where a guy on the balcony kept shouting for the hit, but alas it wasn’t on the packed set-list.

Edith Piaf Said It Better Than Me, a new song, was absolutely adorable. Whispers of praise rippled through us enraptured fans. Suddenly this new strategy of releasing singles ahead of the album seemed to make sense. These tracks ought to be hits, at least paid for and enjoyed for their sparkling individuality.

Thinking we had just enjoyed the highlight, Sparks again astounded us with Missionary Position. Following a giggle at the title, the marvellous music overwhelmed us. Instantly, it all the catchiness of a top number of a musical. All my life I’d been listening to this song was the magical sensation, befuddlingly more elusively vivid than any recollection of deja vu. As Russell’s beautiful voice soared into the high notes, lyrics about the time the stars come out left us starry eyed and spellbound, despite being united in knowingness that he had long ascended to stardom in a glittery age, yet this unique singer intrepidly is still going where no man has gone before..

My Baby’s Taking Me Home, performed without the distorted mike effect, went down well with audience cheers interupting the lull before the thrash.

Futuristic was the machine music of No1 in Heaven when it appeared in the 70s, as Sparks set in unstoppable motion the musical fashion of the 80s. Here it sounded every bit as driving with the electric guitars mimicking the exhilaring rythmn. And Ron did the shuffle! Cheers!

This Town Aint Big Enough for Both of Us was show stopping as ever. It never fails. Behind us, (front row with diligently enforced forbiddenness from standing), people were on their feet and noisy.

Bouncy was the top ten follow up hit Amateur Hour which ended the night. Perhaps ironic was this choice because this band are clearly professional.

After two invigorating performances, rather a lot of us were jaded and wearied. Thus the finale was perhaps the most unenviable slot.

Gliding to centre stage, the willowy figure of Alison Goldfrapp was elegant in scarlet, now like the star of a 70s sci fi flick. With a demure “thank you” she began. Commencing a vocal piece lifted from one of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtracks it struck me just how impressive Alison’s expansive vocal range is. New release Anymore from Silver Eye roused a reception that confirmed they are still on peak form. Buzzing songs from my own two album strong collection, were loud and relished. Ride a White Horse, Ooh La La, Black Cherry … so many great pop songs even from my (far too modest) collection that pleased. Finishing off an encore was the stomping Strict Machine, the very song that introduced me to Goldfrapp, reinforced just how lucky I felt with the hot ticket of the day.. And they are about to tour too.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the lively review, allydod - well-written, as always!
"but we can hear what others can't hear..."
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a great review, Ally. Enjoyed reliving it all through your wonderfully descriptive prose. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Clearly a labour of love.

Ron Playing
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Careless Man
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Joined: 03 Jun 2016
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Location: Fife

PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very short but complimentary revue in today's Scottish Sunday Mail, gave them 5 stars but spent more column inches to "the main event" Goldfrapp!

I may be a tad biased but Goldfrapp were anything but the main event.

At least Sparks got a mention in the Scottish press -makes a nice change.
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