Gig Review: Franz Ferdinand
The Electric Brixton, a small theatre in London, isn’t used to playing host to a former Reading-headlining band like Franz Ferdinand. Its 500 capacity is far from befitting of such a hugely popular indie rock staple – but it was the gig’s intimate nature that made this particular show from Alex Kapranos and co so special. Franz’s 2004 debut is perhaps the best indie disco record of its era, and nine years on the Scotish four-piece retain their power to get a crowd bouncing.
Franz Ferdinand-tipped opening band Primitive Parts delivered a passable performance. Their grungey, garage rock sound was interesting enough, but they quickly established themselves as a poor-mans Howler with most punters heading back to the bar halfway through their short set. I certainly wouldn’t go as far to call them bad, but they’re setlist lacked any kind of catchy melody – they nailed the Strokes-esque down-stroke chord patterns but despite having a line-up consisting of two guitarists didn’t really deliver any killer riffs.
True masters of their indie-pop craft, Franz Ferdinand made an instant impression. The band found their mojo with already beloved new single Right Action, before ripping through 2009’s mega-hit No You Girls to an incredible reaction.
Although the gig was pitched as a show to launch the band’s latest LP Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, older material was certainly not neglected. First album highlights such as the divine The Dark Of The Matinee, This Fire, Michael and Tell Her Tonight prompted mass sing-a-longs, showing that their mercury-winning self-titled effort remains one of the most acclaimed and beloved albums of the noughties.
Interestingly, however, tracks lifted from the band’s second and third records proved to be resounding high-points. Kapranos delivered a stellar vocal performance on my personal favourite Franz track Walk Away, whilst Tonight’s lead single Ulysees was greeted like the chart-conquering classic it deserved to be.
The mammoth nineteen track set showcased plenty of new material to boot, with new single Love Illumination, Fresh Strawberries and closer Goodbye Lovers & Friends all getting live outings. The new record doesn’t sound like much of a revolution – with new tracks blending in to the band’s established set seamlessly enough – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Franz Ferdinand are undeniably very good at what they do, and despite the occasional call of “Play your old shit” from the crowd the new songs were well received.
Naturally, the band’s two biggest hits Do You Want To and Take Me Out were greeted with the greatest sense of euphoria from the dedicated crowd, although the band didn’t necessarily do their true classic singles justice in their performance. In particular, Take Me Out was played a little too quickly for my liking. The true indie rock mastery of that track is the way the band build up to the iconic riff around the 1 minue mark, but the speed at which the band played the song meant that impact was lost somewhat.
But hey, now I’m nit-picking. Franz Ferdinand sounded every bit as exciting as when they first burst on to the prosperous indie rock scene of 2004, and with the right promotional backing there’s no reason why latest LP Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action can’t be the belated soundtrack of the summer.
Boasting impressive stage-presence, killer riffs and danceable melodies, Franz Ferdinand truly are the real deal. Expect to see them take on some very big festival slots next year.
FMV Rating: ****