The pistol-shot-packing, hysterical glam melodrama of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us, and the unsettling sight of a man with a Hitler moustache: 39 years after LA brothers Ron (songs, keyboards, moustache) and Russell (vocals, looks) Mael’s brief British stardom, that’s our enduring impression.
In the US, France and Germany, though, there were different hits in different decades, in a career of perpetual underdog achievement. This memento of a 2012 tour by just the Maels plus keyboard strips them back to basics. When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’ wryly sums up the frustrations of music minus a Sinatra-size triumph, while Beat The Clock’s exhaustingly precocious four-year-old divorcee could be Sparks tirelessly restarting and restyling their career, kick-starting the synth-pop duo with 1979’s No.1 Song In Heaven, say, then moving on as others cash in.
Bases from Good Morning’s one-night stand nightmare to concept album The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman are covered. Russell’s falsetto sounds slightly exposed at 57 as he vaults through Ron’s frenetic songs, and this raw format isn’t the easiest entry into Sparks’ world. But the long ovations show what these gigs meant to fans who think everything Russell sings is My Way.