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Sparks played two joyous, amazing nights at Le Poisson Rouge (review, setlists, pics)

There’s nobody else like Sparks. Ron and Russell Mael have been keeping it weird for nearly 50 years and continue make great music — new album Hippopotamus (their first in nearly a decade) is a terrific addition to their canon — and continue to be incredible live performers. Their two nights this week at Le Poisson Rouge (October 10 & 11), which BrooklynVegan presented, were maybe the best, most fun shows I’ve been to this year.

Sparks ran though about half of Hippopotamus at both shows, and songs like “Edith Piaf (Said it Better Than Me)” and “I Wish You Were Fun” fit right in alongside classics like “Propaganda,” “When Do I Get to Sing ‘My Way'” and “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us.” Russell, who’s 69, still runs around the stage like someone more than half his age and can still hit all the high notes (of which there are many). Ron (71), meanwhile, stays stoic as always behind his keyboard, at least until the instrumental break in “No. 1 Song in Heaven” where he gets up, loosens his tie and then dances triumphantly across the stage, before fixing his tie again and sitting back down like it never happened. He does it at every show and it kills every time.

It helps that on this tour Ron and Russell have a killer backing band, made up with most of Mini Mansions, who can play the hell out of Sparks’ signature mix of glam rock, disco and cabaret, and nail those multi-part harmonies, too. The crowd was going bananas the whole time, and seemed to know the new album as well as the hits. I went to both shows where they, apart from one song, played the same set in the same order (with some of the same banter), and wasn’t bored even for a second. They played for nearly two hours and I think everyone would’ve stuck around for as long as they wanted to play. As great as the FFS shows with Franz Ferdinand were (they played “Johnny Delusional” from that album), these were better. Pure Sparks. Incredible.

Tony Visconti was in the house Wednesday night and Sparks added “Hospitality on Parade” (from 1975’s Indiscreet which Tony produced) to the encore and dedicated it to him. Night 2 overall was probably just a little better, the crowd was definitely more enthusiastic that night. Opening both nights was Mr. Goodnite, aka Mini Mansions’ Tyler Parkford (also Sparks’ other keyboard player) in meta lounge singer mode, singing over Avalanches-style cut-ups of old ’60s and ’70s records. Pictures from Tuesday’s show are in the gallery above and setlists from both nights and a few fan-shot videos are below.

Sparks were so amazing at Le Poisson Rouge both nights! Proud to have presented the shows. #sparks @sparks_official

A post shared by Brooklyn Vegan (@brooklynvegan) on

“When Do I Get to Sing ‘My Way’” #sparks

A post shared by Richard J. Anderson (@sanspoint_) on

#sparks #amateurhour #ronmael #russellmael #ronandrussellmael @sparks_official #night1

A post shared by Mindy Bond (@mindybond) on

Last @sparks_official post before bedtime: part of "The Number One Song In Heaven."

A post shared by Evan "Funk" Davies (@efdefd) on

Fucking Sparks are AMAZING.

A post shared by GregGarry™ (@greggarry) on

Sparks! @sparks_official

A post shared by @lobster216 on

✨ NYC, you're the best!! Thank you ❤️ . . . #sparks #hippopotamus #hippopotamustour #nyc #newyork

A post shared by S P A R K S (@sparks_official) on

SETLIST: Sparks @ Le Poisson Rouge 10/10/2017
What the Hell Is It This Time?
Propaganda
At Home, At Work, At Play
Good Morning
When Do I Get to Sing “My Way”
Probably Nothing
Missionary Position
Hippopotamus
Sherlock Holmes
Dick Around
Scandinavian Design
Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)
Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth
I Wish You Were Fun
My Baby’s Taking Me Home
The Number One Song in Heaven
This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us
Life with the Macbeths

Encore:
Johnny Delusional
Amateur Hour

SETLIST: Sparks @ Le Poisson Rouge 10/11/2017
What the Hell Is It This Time?
Propaganda
At Home, At Work, At Play
Good Morning
When Do I Get to Sing “My Way”
Probably Nothing
Missionary Position
Hippopotamus
Sherlock Holmes
Dick Around
Scandinavian Design
Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)
Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth
I Wish You Were Fun
My Baby’s Taking Me Home
The Number One Song in Heaven
This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us
Life with the Macbeths

Encore:
Hospitality on Parade
Johnny Delusional
(FFS cover)
Amateur Hour

photos by P Squared

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