Ray's Gigs

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Tuesday 30 May 2023.

Tuesday 30 May 2023. SPARKS live at The Royal Albert Hall. Sparks play the second of two sold out shows at this iconic venue. I am nearer the stage tonight, a bit side on, but very close to the stage. From this view I can see that the two guitars and bass player have just one amp each, but the pa sound projected is just fantastic for the musicians and the vocals. It was pretty identical to the show last night. Same great setlist. Same great stage banter. Same great show. ----------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------- Monday 29 May 2023. SPARKS live at The Royal Albert Hall. It has taken them 50 years, but Sparks finally play this iconic venue for the first time. Most other musicians, when they've been working for over half a century, are resting on their laurels, basking in the warm glow of their heritage, accepting the odd Lifetime Achievement Award, playing the odd Greatest Hits tour and concentrating on shifting their back catalogue. But Sparks are not most other musicians. They are utterly unique , as their career moved through many phases, including (but not limited to) art rock, glam, big band swing, electro-disco. With the release of their 26th album, ' The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte', on May 26th Ron and Russell Mael continue on that unique and uncompromising path. And, in a move that is as unexpected as it is unsurprising, the new bold, genre defying, modern masterpiece will be released by Island Records, the label that released their astonishing breakthrough record 'Kimono My House' in 1974, which was recorded in London. Their two biggest hits were from that album , 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us' and 'Amateur Hour'. I have seen Sparks around a dozen times ,including in 1974 and 1975 when they headlined Hammersmith Odeon on the back of their early hit singles. I also saw their most recent London show before these ones, which were at The Roundhouse in 2022. ------------------ The venue is totally sold out , as announced well over a month ago. Support act was called an eccentric guy called MR B : THE GENTLEMAN RHYMER. He performed a 30 mins set from 7.30pm of solo and cover tracks which included even a Sparks medley of 'Amateur Hour ' and 'Get In The Swing'. SPARKS arrived on stage at 8.30pm and played for 1 hour 50 mins Sparks are clearly over the moon to be playing this iconic venue. They have their biggest and best stage production I have ever seen with them. They are 24 blocks of vertical lighting poles that take up the entire back wall area of the stage, and are used superbly. There are five great musicians, all dressed in black, on the raised platform behind Ron & Russell. The Mael brothers settle immediately into that old dynamic: Russell the flamboyant frontman, strutting around the stage in his tailored black and red suit, his face still boyish in its glee. His mustachioed, bespectacled brother Ron is his opposite, hilariously po-faced behind his keyboard the Roland logo cheekily misspelled as Ronald. Always moving forward , they are always keen to promote a new album, and not to rely on a greatest hits set. They played several new album tracks ,which are really good and go down well with the crowd. After 26 albums, they are still finding interesting subjects to write lyrics about. Some superb dance pop synth hits in the second half of the set , but no space this tour for gems including 'Amateur Hour' , 'Beat The Clock' and 'Get In The Swing'. The crowd were all up and dancing after an hour. At the end of the show ,Ron & Russell introduce the band and milk the standing ovation at the end. It was a great show. Full SPARKS setlist played tonight..... So May We Start The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte Eaten by the Monster of Love Angst in My Pants Beaver O'Lindy When I'm With You Nothing Is as Good as They Say It Is It Doesn't Have to Be That Way Balls Shopping Mall of Love (Ron and Russell co-vocals) The Toughest Girl in Town Escalator We Go Dancing Bon Voyage Music That You Can Dance To When Do I Get to Sing "My Way" The Number One Song in Heaven (Ron doing his funny dance) This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us Gee, That Was Fun Encore: A Love Story My Baby's Taking Me Home All That