FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL, BRISBANE
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND 2023
PERHAPS WE'RE ALL JUST KIDS AT HEART. That certainly would go a way explaining the deep, intense admiration witnessed in the room tonight for the legendary Sparks. The small yet grateful crowd inhale every single note, every word uttered by the duo of Ron and Russell Mael, backed by another four musicians, who infamously "never cracked it". Novices should've started with the remarkable 2021 documentary, The Sparks Brothers, but those here tonight who are thrust straight into the belly of this cult sure have their eyebrows lifted. Mutters of "they're The Wiggles for adults" can be heard and without the statement being a slight, they're not wrong. The boundless energy of the 75 year old Russell Mael has punters over half his age at exhaustion point, just witnessing him.
Tonight is significant - it marks their first ever appearance in Brisbane and the first in "quite sometime" in Australia, all while winding up their massive 40 date world tour. The 52 year old band has a lot to celebrate - on the back of critical acclaim for the aforementioned documentary and their composing the soundtrack for Annette, a recent Adam Driver-starring Leos Carax musical film, they released their 25th studio album The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte, again, to much applause.
Sliding into a clunky intro of 'So May We Start', a bombastic piece from Annette, it's unclear whether they're taking a minute to find their feet or the mistimed awkwardness is all part of the show. Not that it matters, the future-friendly title track of their latest album quickly dissipates anything prior and a goes a way to see the latest material to the uninitiated. All is performed with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but this project is certainly no joke yet leaps from 70's glam to new wave and proper club-friendly bangers and beyond. Russell's falsetto still shines as brightly as his moves, while Ron sits stagnant, all part of the schtick, until he leaps to his feet in a surprising burst of energy at one point to provide a signature move.
The setlist lifts a lot from their recent album but familiar oldies are scattered throughout, however while nearing the end of the set, it's a sequence of top shelf favourites bouncing from 'Music That You Can Dance To', 'When Do I Get To Sing "My Way"', the single greatest thumper in their set 'The Number One Song In Heaven' and, of course the big one 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us.' The encore is great and all, but there was never any topping that quartet of tunes. It's not clear if the extended and deeply earnest speeches at the end are typical or due to this being their last show, but the typically quiet Ron even comments that he's spoken on the mic more tonight than the last 20 years combined. They're thankful, it's obvious, but so is the audience - this reviewer has not ever witnessed such extended applause - it's clear how much Sparks mean to these people and Sparks comment how this will fuel their next phase. Godspeed lads, and thanks for visiting.