I’ve wanted to see Sparks since I was about 15 years old - to me they really epitomise perfect pop music, strange and kooky and weird and funny - but also vital and really pretty important.
New wave as a genre is very hard to quantify, and I’m not sure whether the brothers Sparks fit into that category, because they kind of have a category all their own - someone should make a cartoon about them because it would be amazing.
So anyway here we are - Common People in Oxford’s South Park - and it’s hotter than the sun. We dip inside a music tent for some shade before the band come on and it was a pretty good call because some of Oxford’s stranger new bands are playing and it’s really fun.
And then it’s time for Sparks - Ron and Russell Mael are flanked by a full band clad in pink jackets. Singer Russell wears a contrasting pink jacket - Ron just a pink tie, shirt and high wasted slacks and as he sits down at the keyboard the crowd erupts for the arrival of the eccentric star. And in archetypal fashion not a single smile will befall the face of Ron, not a twitch of that trademark pencil moustache - just the way we like it.
The band have a seriously great back catalogue to choose from, but the majority of songs on the day come from new record Hippopotamus - which is fine by me because it’s a lovely album. Everyone seems to know the words to what already feels like a classic track Edith Piaf Said It Better.
There is of course room for some classics too - with When Do I Get To Sing My Way? Tryouts For The Human Race and This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both of Us eliciting a giant crowd response.
Now I know I said that Ron didn’t crack a smile throughout - but I lied... During Number One Song In Heaven the iconic keyboard player jumped up from behind his instrument - sidled to the front of the stage and launched into a rather entertaining dance, which I must admit made my day.
I always knew Sparks were fantastic, but they are fantastic live too - and I’ll definitely not wait to see them play again!