By James Currie
Fresh off the heels of their award winning documentary on their life and times, “The Sparks Brothers”, real life brothers and band mates Ron and Russell fill the house at the Copernicus Center in Chicago for what had to have been a sold out show.
Sparks have played Chicago before, but this time was different. The venue was busting at the seams. Could be because of the recent release of the duo’s documentary, or maybe it’s the attraction to their latest album, “A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip”. Their 24th studio album release (just as a global pandemic shut live music community down). Or maybe it’s a combination of these things. Fans as clamoring to get out and see live music as the COVID numbers are low and a passing of two-years has taken a toll on us all.
Tonight, the Mael brothers gave us a little of everything as they brought a full backing band out for a one night only show in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. They clearly wanted to divert the worlds aliments with their quirky attitudes, pop art songs and lively banter as Russell danced around the massive stage in his electric yellow and black accented suit. Ronald (name tag present) kept his stoic demeanor on stage left giving the beady-eyed welcoming stare to all who encountered it.
They kicked off the set with “So May We Start”, the apropos track to starting any Sparks performance. They continued with “Angst In My Pants” followed by the fan favorite, “Tips For Teens”. Sparks played through 23 songs including the 2 encores traversing through their 50+ years of making music together.
One fan I was next to said she has been waiting more than 20 years to see Sparks live again. Jennifer Gail (55) (Schaumburg, Illinois) said, “I have been a fan since high school when they did the Jane Wiedlin (Go-Go’s) song, “Cool Places” (1983). I was an MTV junkie and this song and video was one of my all time favorites. I remember the video of Russell and Jane dancing that classic 80’s “swing” dance, the colors in the video so 80’s as well. Ron’s strange look and creepy attitude just shook me and I was all in.” She went on to say tonight was her first time seeing them in a seat as the last time was decades ago at a fair and I couldn’t see anything then.”
The show closed with Ron and Russell thanking the crowd for coming. Ron tending to his jacket, folding it up as if to put it away in a drawer. Sparks ends the night with “All That” and with that, bows to the audience and turns around to take a massive selfie with the fans to commemorate the night on the bands long journey.
Sparks are on tour in the US only until April 1st, then they go on to Canada and Europe through mid May. Seemingly one of the longest tours they been on in years.
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Setlist: Sparks live in Chicago at Copernicus Center 03-19-22