Preview: Sparks, Edinburgh Picture House

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Sparks are siblings Ron and Russell Mael, who first came to prominence during the mid-1970s with such luminous pop hits as This Town Ain’t Big For Both of Us and have delighted and perplexed their fans ever since.

For the first time, the pair are currently touring as a duo using just voice and keyboards - a typically bold and unexpected move from the legendary synth-pop pioneers.

“We are always looking for new challenges to push what we do as Sparks,” says Russell, speaking ahead of Sparks’ visit to the HMV Picture House on Sunday. “And though the core of Sparks has always been Ron and me, we’ve never approached touring with just the two of us.

“So we thought that this time around, this could be a new challenge that would be appealing to not only ourselves, but also our audience.”

And if the reaction to Sparks shows thus far in Europe are anything to go by, fans are in for a treat when they hit the Capital this weekend.

The one thing that we have tried to stress is that this isn’t an acoustic evening with Sparks,” says Russell. “We hate the term singer/songwriter, because it has a connotation of someone putting the audience to sleep after about 20 seconds into their opening ‘heart-felt’ acoustic tune.

“We wanted to retain all the power and urgency of Sparks, and to make it as far away from an acoustic performance as possible. With this approach our lyrics as well as Ron’s melodies come to the fore, yet all of the personality of the two of us and the sense of energy have also been retained.”

Sparks’ sound is very rich and layered, so it was a huge ask to strip the songs back to just voice and keyboard.

“A lot of trial and error to find the songs in our vast repertoire that could work with the simplified instrumentation,” says Russell. “And we wanted to be able to retain the energy and spirit of works even though there is only two of us on stage. But we think we’ve come up with a strong approach to that.

Sparks, HMV Picture House, Lothian Road, Sunday, 7pm, £20, 0844-847 1740