April 18th, 2013 | Photos

Photos and words by Melissa Moore
Maybe it was the quiet walk in darkness among the grave sites and palm trees of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, or the ominous high-backed chairs and stained glass windows of the old Masonic Lodge, or the reverential mood of the intimate, sold-out crowd of hardcore fans (two of the front row attendees had flown in from Canada and Massachusetts), or the hour of circus music that filled the hall before the duo took the stage – whatever the reason, last night’s Sparks show was the kind of transcendental experience I always hope a live show will deliver. From the moment the house lights dropped and pianist Ron Mael took the stage in a spotlight to play the “Two Hands, One Mouth Overture,” to the closing vocal notes of Russell Mael on the titular song written specifically for the tour, we were treated to 2 1/2 hours of non-stop Sparks hits. It was surprising how stripping down their often layered and multi-instrumental work to two hands (keyboards) and one mouth (vocals) kept the cinematic drama and high-energy experience without losing anything in the process: the bouncy “Sherlock Holmes” was laid bare to reveal the entirety of the beautiful and heart-wrenching love song it is; “Angst in My Pants” set only to a keyboard line gave the best song off the Valley Girl soundtrack an entirely new sound; “Beat the Clock” without the drums lost a bit of its disco to transform into a dance track that could have been written yesterday. Maybe that’s the magic of Sparks – everything they put out feels simultaneously timeless and fresh. If you’re at Coachella this weekend, head to the Mojave Tent at 7:35 P.M. on Friday to catch the band that all the other bands want to see. If you can’t, Russell promised they’d be back in their hometown soon, at a much bigger venue. I can’t wait.

Set List
Two Hands, One Mouth Overture
The Rhythm Thief
At Home, At Work, At Play
Sherlock Holmes
Angst in My Pants
Under the Table With Her
My Baby’s Taking Me Home
Singing in the Shower
The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael
I am Ingmar Bergman (excerpt)
Mr. Bergman, How Are You (excerpt)
We’ve Got To Turn Him Round (excerpt)
He’s Home (excerpt)
Dick Around
Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth
This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us
Suburban Homeboy
When Do I Get to Sing “My Way”

The Number One Song in Heaven
Beat the Clock
Two Hands, One Mouth