Spark's Valentine's Love Fest
No band demonstrates the boundary pushing qualities of classic glitter rock quite as well as Sparks, who, while virtually unknown here in the states, became certified screaming girl adored rock stars during the early seventies throughout Europe and Japan. The irony being that the band, essentially brothers Russell and Ron Mael, are Los Angeles natives, having grown up right here in the Pacific Palisades with both Maels attending UCLA.
All of which made Sparks much anticipated Los Angeles show this Valentines Day a genuine hometown celebration. The fact that it transpired as part of the UCLA Live series at the school’s historic Royce Hall only served to heighten this celebratory atmosphere. The band, which currently includes Red Kross bassist Steven McDonald, arrived on stage to a standing ovation and proceeded to play their brand new album, Exotic Creatures Of The Deep, in its entirety for the receptive sold-out crowd.
The live addition of younger musicians like McDonald, who appeared to be having the time of his life, served to inject an additional energy into the band's always unorthodox compositions. This was only augmented by the charming and surprisingly youthful fifty-six year old singer Russell Mael who careened around the stage with enthusiasm to spare as keyboardist brother Ron offered silent comedic asides. After an intermission, the band returned to reenact their much revered 1974 album Kimono My House, from start to finish. There was another heartfelt ovation, after which Sparks continued with what can only be described as a Valentine's love fest between the band and their rapturous fans.
Word came down from UCLA Live’s Artistic Director and apparent Spark’s fan, David Sefton, via singer Russell Mael, that it was alright to leave your seats and boogie in the aisles and crowd proceeded to do just that. For nearly an another hour Sparks played songs from their twenty one album catalog spanning not only glitter rock, but classic Giorgio Moroder era disco as well as a successful foray into eighties synth-pop. Towards the end, the only people who seemed more enraptured than the band’s gyrating fans were the Mael brothers themselves.
- John Albert