Friday, September 10, 2004

DVD : Lil' Beethoven - Live in Stockholm

The Guardian

Sparks, Lil' Beethoven Live in Stockholm


Good old Sparks - you can always count on them to bring some carefully controlled lunacy into your day, and their latest offering doesn't disappoint. A live concert DVD recorded in Stockholm this year, it comes in two halves. The opening segment features a full performance of the band's most recent Lil' Beethoven album, and the second half contains all the old hits.
In addition, you get a brief peek inside the band's dressing room, where the ever-inscrutable Ron Mael is eager to show you his portable potato patch and collection of imported tangerine trees. Is he entirely taking the piss? Who can tell?

The concert itself is part rock gig, part unclassifiable performance art event. Arched windows contain images of ticking metronomes, two statuesque timpani players flank the stage, and Russ Mael delivers the bizarre, repetitive songs with a portentous urgency that completely belies the absurdity of the lyrics. The new stuff sounds wonderfully avant-garde, while golden oldies such as This Town Ain't Big Enough are transformed into steamrolling techno-rock epic.

James Griffiths


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