Sparkadia, Operator Please, Alpine @ ANU Bar, Canberra (24/2/11)

Things have been quite good for Sparkadia’s main man Alex Burnett. Despite 2009’s departure of the rest of his band, things have only gone from strength to strength. The follow up to 2008’s Postcards, The Great Impression has been met with rave reviews and proves that just because three quarters of Sparkadia are no more, it doesn’t mean that the talent is lacking. 
On Thursday Sparkadia hit the ANU Bar, both to showcase the new album and take us way back to the summer of love, 2008. Supports were two bands more than capable of headlining on their own, so it wasn’t a surprise that the bar was packed almost straight away.

First cab off the rank were Melbourne indie-pop outfit Alpine. Their dreamy and catchy dance-floor fillers and infectious stage presence were just the things to kick start an evening of quality music. Playing songs off their debut EP, Zurich such as the popular Too Safe and Villages, Alpine’s show was concrete proof that sometimes, you really should believe the hype.

A short while later Operator Please took to the stage to play for a revved up and excited crowd. Over the years, Operator’s sound has matured and this was evident in their set, which though energetic as always, was pared back and slightly subtle. 
They played to a crowd that sang along to every hit and by the time they had wrapped up we’d been treated to a smattering of songs from their two studio albums, notable highlights being Catapult, Volcanic and Logic. Operator Please played like the seasoned musicians they now are and left the crowed buzzed and well and truly ready for more.

A mere half an hour later Burnett appeared on stage, welcomed with screaming, clapping and catcalls. Backed by his band who all hail from England, Burnett, who was sporting a slight Johnny Cash look about him didn’t waste any time making his way through his impressive list of hits. Nostalgia was taken care of with older tracks such as Kiss of Death, Too Much To Do and Morning Light, while The Great Impression and the rowdy Mary represented the newer tracks. Burnett expertly mixed the former with the latter, the departure of the band members from Postcards obviously didn’t change the very definite Sparkadia sound.

The crowd ranged from red-faced-beer-drinkers, to cooler-than-thou hipsters, to fresh faced 18-year-olds and it was with a collective excitement that they jumped, danced and yelled along to every song. Said excitement peaked with recent hits Talking Like I’m Falling Down Stairs and China, with Burnett obviously pretty chuffed with the reception he was getting. 
With any band there is always one song that diehards and johnny-come-lately’s alike will hang out to hear and when a band leaves the stage without playing it an encore is pretty much guaranteed. When Burnett strolled back on stage, it was to end the night with mammoth hit Jealousy, which ensured that mild hysteria followed.

Upon leaving that night, with a newly acquired crush of Burnett (it must be the Johnny Cash hair), it was clear that the magic Sparkadia created way back in 2008 is still very much present and accounted for.