Sparks: Lil’ Beethoven

Dom Robinson reviews

Sparks: Lil’ Beethoven
Live in Stockholm
Distributed by
Demon Vision


  • Cert:
  • DEMONDVD 001
  • Running time: 115 minutes
  • Year: 2004
  • Pressing: 2004
  • Region(s): 2, PAL
  • Chapters: 23
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English
  • Subtitles: None
  • Widescreen: 1.78:1
  • 16:9-enhanced: Yes
  • Disc Format: DVD 9
  • Price: £17.99
  • Extras:The Legend of Lil’ Beethoven, Soundcheck, Backstage, Audience interviews,Sparks facts

    Producer :

      Asa Hamnestahl

Few bands are as weird as Sparks,headed by American brothers Ron and Russell Mael, who launched onto the music scene 30 yearsago with what became their signature hit, This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us,making No.2 in May 1974, and as the set list below shows, long-named tracks is also a penchantof theirs.

If a word could describe their output, it would be “unconventional”. Often it’s a case of styleover content that sets this band apart from any other and when they put on a live show like this,it’s clearly the theatrical appearance of it which shines through, starting with the intriguing imagesbehind the band in six ‘archways’, the strange looks at the camera from Ron Mael while Russ sings on,and also Ron’s strange long arms on …Carnegie Hall.

As the concert continues, there’s no attempt to bond with the audience in the usual way a band will,introducing the performers – they just get on with it, and the bizarre titles appear above the archways.Russell uses multiple microphones in My Baby’s Taking Me Home. Quirky excellence comes to thefore in Your Call’s Very Important To Us. Please Hold and Ron stands alongside a dolly bird forUgly Guys with Beautiful Girls. In fact, it’s only until several songs into the bonus tracks thatthey speak to the audience.

Talking of the bonus tracks, I’ve already mentioned This Town…, and they also include minor hits fromthe 90s when they tried a comeback, When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing) and WhenDo I Get To Sing ‘My Way’. Shame they didn’t include late ’70s classic, Beat the Clock.

The full list of tracks for both sets are listed below, and are split with the first 9 tracks,then after the audience have an interval (which we don’t see, obviously), the 13 bonus live tracks. The 23rdtrack is just for DVD credits.

Lil’ Beethoven Set List

1. The Rhythm Thief
2. How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?
3. What Are All These Bands So Angry About?
4. I Married Myself
5. Ride ‘Em Cowboy
6. My Baby’s Taking Me Home
7. Your Call’s Very Important To Us. Please Hold
8. Ugly Guys with Beautiful Girls
9. Suburban Homeboy

Bonus live tracks:

1. It’s a Sparks Show
2. National Crime Awareness Week
3. Here in Heaven
4. The Number One Song in Heaven
5. Nothing To Do
6. The Calm Before The Storm
7. The Ghost of Liberace
8. Talent is an Asset
9. Hospitality on Parade
10. When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing)
11. This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us
12. When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’
13. Amateur Hour

The concert was filmed and presented here in anamorphic 16:9 widescreen. It looks crystal clearand the sound rivals this in Dolby Digital 5.1 with good placing of the audience behind thelistener as if you’re in the auditorium yourself.

The extras are as follows:

    The Legend of Lil’ Beethoven (2 mins):Ron and Russ reveal the inspiration behind the concert, briefly. Well, Russ does. Ron neversays that much 🙂

    Soundcheck (6 mins):Does exactly what it says on the tin.

    Backstage (4 mins):Ron speaks for the first real time on this DVD. That’s not normally the real backstage roomis it? 🙂

    Audience interviews (11½ mins):Random comments in response to an interview asking the most inane of questions.

    Sparks Facts:A biography and discography.

So, a few moderately interesting extras there but nothing that’ll trouble you more than once.Still, it’s the concert you’ve mainly tuned in for here.The menus feature music and some subtle animation, but it’s a shame there are no lyrics onscreenfor the songs.


Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 2004.

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