26 October 2012

Sparks: Two Hands, One Mouth at the Barbican

I was lucky enough to see the try-out for Two Hands, One Mouth back in June and I leapt at the chance to see it again when it returned to London, this time as part of an European tour.

This time it was the plush seated main hall at the Barbican rather than the cramped standing-only Bush Hall.

I leapt quickly enough to get seats in the third row of the central block.

Sparks are not really the sort of band you want to sit and listen too as their poppy bouncy music commands you to move. On the other hand you get to see the band clearly without some 6ft 6in youth standing in front of you. It is a good compromise; dance to the band at Bush Hall then see them at the Barbican.

The seating was not the only difference that the Barbican made. The other big difference was the sound system that boomed and echoed across the hall. The low base notes ripped through me at times threatening to make a mess of my innards. 

The shows was much as it was when I first saw it, which was expected and was good.

They played a lot of my favourite songs, such as Metaphor, My Baby's Taking Me Home, Suburban Homeboy and When Do I Get to Sing My Way.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the biggest cheer came for This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us, which I still love but not as much as the later longer and more repetitive songs.

Sparks played a few tricks on us and three of the songs had false endings. Though, to be fair, in Suburban Homeboy they are not really endings but breaks after which the song resumes at a faster pace.

Russell did a lot of talking to the crowd, and Ron did some too. They said how much London means to them and gave us thanks for giving them their big break in the 70s. Unexpected but welcome.

More expected was the Ron dance though they kept us waiting. We all knew that Russell was at the keyboard ready to take over the one-finger duty releasing Ron. Most unexpected was Ron taking his shirt off and going in to the audience. A few middle aged women got the treat of their lives.

The show ended fittingly and well with the song composed just for this tour, Two Hands, One Mouth.

This was Sparks at their consummate best. They selected carefully from their extensive back-catalogue choosing songs with different styles that work well together and they magicked this in to performance that delighted the audience. The smile stayed on my face for a long time.

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