14 June 2008

Sparks: Exotic creatures of the deep

The last month has flown by and suddenly we are at Sparks' concert #21 of 21, which started with a performance of their latest album, Exotic creatures of the deep.

Musically, it is similar to the last two albums and makes use of Apple-powered multi-tracking.

Sparks make few concessions to this when performing live and use pre-recorded tracks to augment the sound of the band. But this is not a pretence and it also frees Ron to join in the show.

Here, during Photoshop, Ron is pretending to play a keyboard displayed on the screen that is being moved and manipulated by the software.

Other theatrical highlights included the women who came on stage pushing shopping trolleys, pretended to be pregnant men and posed as renaissance angels. And for the elongated finale, Likeable, we saw a display of the 21 album covers in sequence being burnt leaving us with Exotic creatures of the deep.

The second part of the set we were treated to a collection of rare songs, some (all?) of which had appeared as encores in the earlier shows. By then the already very happy crowd was dancing, cheering, clapping and singing with pure joy. Far too soon it ended and Sparks got a long and very enthusiastic reception from the crowd.

The encore opened surprisingly with the final two tracks, Batteries Not Included and Whippings And Apologies, from their second album A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing (1972). I particularly liked this as they were the first two Sparks songs that I ever heard, played on the radio by John Peel, of course. This was followed by a rocking version of Change, a stupendous crescendo to the evening.

But that was not it. The cheers, claps and stomps brought Sparks out for a second encore which just had to be This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us.

So that's it, all 21 concerts have been played and while it was a phenomenal success it is unlikely that anybody will trying anything quite like that again. I am just very glad that I was there when Sparks did it.

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