Sam Sparro curse strikes again
Sam Sparro tells Andrew Cowen about the blows that Birmingham has dealt him in trying to play a gig
Sam Sparro is probably the unluckiest man in pop.
Twice he’s been booked to play in Birmingham, and twice he’s had the rug pulled from under his feet.
The last time was when he was top of the bill at a certain gig promoted by a mobile phone company. Sam arrived ready to plug in, only to discover that the P.A system had blown.
This was when his single Black And Gold was nudging the top of the charts and hundreds of people were turned away from the Custard Factory, disappointed.
“I’ve not had much luck in Birmngham,” admits the camp crooner.
On Wednesday, he’s playing in Wolverhampton, hoping to duck the dreaded curse of Brum.
“It’ll be OK this time,” he promises.
Sam’s packing his nine-piece band, assembled from British players, a sign of how the UK has taken him to heart.
“The songs benefit from this elaborate treatment,” Sam says.
“It also makes things more flexible on-stage. We can extend or shorten things at will. We do rehearse a lot but the benefit of this is that we can put on a really spontaneous show.”
So far, Sam’s been a one -hit wonder, but what a hit.
Black And Gold is the first pop chart-topper to negotiate such thorny subjects as alchemy and astronomy. Like Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, it hits the perfect spot between old and new. Like the best pop songs, it already sounds like it’s been around forever and there are plenty of cover versions appearing.
“Guillemots have done a great version,” says Sam. “It’s going to be a b-side on their next single.
“I’m good friends with the band, in fact I had them round for dinner just the other night.”
I asked Sam if he felt that Black And Gold is in danger of over-shadowing his whole career. The singer’s debut album is an eclectic trip around several styles with ballads, pop songs and dancefloor cuts all vying for attention.
“It’s surreal,” he agrees.
“That one song has cast a shadow over the rest of my material. It feels like it’s not even my song any more. It belongs to everyone.
“However, I tell myself that I’m still at the very start of my career so there’s plenty more to come.”
I suggest to Sam that it’s the sheer eclecticism of the album that makes it hard for him to establish an identity. Anyone buying it expecting 12 copies of Black And Gold will be disappointed.
“I guess that could be the case,” he says.
“My idols are people like David Bowie and Prince, artists who can switch effortlessly between genres.
“I’d find it really hard to stick to just one style.”
There’s no doubt that Australian-born Sam’s star is at its brightest in Britain and – here’s that curse again – he’s just had to cancel an American tour because his British band members couldn’t get visas.
“It’s growing in the States,” he admits. I’ve got a massive following in L.A and New York but there has been no big commercial push. That’s kind of nice as it means I’m not over-expsoed and can make my name in underground circles first.
“It still amazes me when I’m driving in America and Black And Gold comes on the radio.”
Sam’s planning to tour for the rest of the year with dates in Europe and Japan.
There’s a recording session booked next week when he’s taping a “top secret” cover version.
He’ll have a little rest then before starting on the process of writing and recording the second album.
It’s also been a summer of festivals for Sam Sparro with Glastonbury his favourite.
“I also did the O2 Wireless, Global Gathering and Wakestock.
“However, my luck ran out again a couple of weeks ago at Bestival at the Isle of Wight. It was the wettest weekend ever and the rain didn’t stop. I have never seen so much mud. Awful.
“On top of that, my slot was cancelled because the stage was flooded and it was just too dangerous.”
* Sam Sparro plays at Wulfrun Hall, North St, Wolverhampton on September 25. 7pm. Tel: 0870 320 7000