Just when you thought the pop/electro genre had been fully saturated with the likes of Calvin Harris, Alphabeat and Sam Sparro, here comes Tommy Sparks, a Swedish pop prodigy to take over the scene. It’s apparent that Sparks isn’t just another copy-cat; he absolutely hates being compared to anybody, knocking back any comparisons with a ‘Well, I’m not them am I?’
On stage, Tommy Sparks is a real showman and stands apart from his competition, interacting constantly with the audience, asking for unpretentious sing-a-longs and for people to dance with him. As an up-and-coming support artist Tommy really knows how to sell himself to an unfamiliar audience; it is obvious how much energy and effort he puts into every performance, a stark contrast to the shy, retiring, and tired-looking man I met backstage before the show. Tommy even openly declares that he can never expect a crowd to love him, ‘It’s down to you, what you do on stage, you have to do something, you have to open yourself up and wear your heart on your sleeve’. The mere fact that he can command a packed-out arena venue and sing so damn well whilst jumping around so vigorously, guitar in hand, is something to wonder at. It’s almost surprising when a band you’ve never heard before make you stop and listen and it was very clear that the whole crowd was paying attention. The melange of genres infused into Sparks’ music makes him accessible to all, funk-electro-grunge-dance or ‘pure pop’ as Sparks describes himself is probably the closest I could get to explaining his musical style. There is no doubt, however, that his roots lie in dance; a big Prodigy fan, Sparks will feature on the man himself, Liam Howlett’s latest EP, which came about because of a punk band Sparks used to be in. I feel that there’s an untold story there…
The explosive 80s synth nature of his songs fills the generously sized function room of the Wolverhampton Civic with sound and dancing converts who seemed to have forgotten about the pending Bloc Party performance in lieu of a raving Scandinavian. Tommy’s music is simple pop; catchy, proper pop. There’s no personal therapy being diffused through his music, in fact he describes his first single ‘I’m A Rope’ as being ‘a string of random words and phrases, just because’. As of yet, Sparks has only released ‘I’m A Rope’ and a few remixes, and surprisingly hardly any songs were introduced with a proper name, just descriptions such as ‘This is a funky song, a funky, sexy song for all the ladies here tonight. Get sexy for me’.
Of all his songs, ‘I’m A Rope’ will surely soon become a crowd favourite (if you haven’t heard it, download it now from iTunes, and be sure to watch the very weird video online); it’s up-beat, fast-paced, nonsensical and always accompanied live by enough strobe lighting to give anyone a haemorrhage – a recipe for success surely?! All other un-named songs went down a similar treat live in Wolverhampton; this is an ensemble which is bang on the money, not just a band but a musical team, in sync with each other to the millisecond whilst also retaining a fluid and improvisational edge, something only obtained from bands with true passion for their music. If I haven’t made it clear enough already, Tommy Sparks live in action is definitely something not to be missed. Bring your friends, bring your siblings, bring your grandmother (she’ll love him), bring your dog, whatever, just make sure you bring yourself along to a show, you will not regret it.