Brixton Academy, London, 28 October 2004
Mercury Music Award winners 2004, two million albums sold
worldwide, the tough American market broken successfully
and all from a band who were virtual unknowns just twelve
months ago. Effortlessly balancing on the tricky tightrope
between critical acclaim and commercial success, the Glasgow-based
art-rockers' achievements speak for themselves but what
exactly is all the fuss about Franz Ferdinand?
through a curtain featuring a projection of the real Franz
Ferdinand, (whose assassination triggered WWI don't you
know), it rises for frontman Alex Kapranos and co. to dive
headlong into the tongue-in-cheek camp of Michael followed
by the upbeat strut of Tell Her Tonight making it clear
from the start that this is going to be a stirringly high-powered
performance. The crisply-dressed quartet speed through hits
Matinee and the tempo-shifting disco-rock of Take Me Out,
playing with the spirit and energy of a group clearly enjoying
every second of their performance while exuding a charisma,
character and showmanship far beyond what many of today's
bland, lethargic acts can muster.
proves a magnetic stage-presence, dancing, posing and heel-kicking
his way through each song, the electro-flecked Come On Home
seeing him jumping to a loftier perch in front of Paul Thomson's
drum kit. The similarly hyperactive, Nick McCarthy, then
steals the limelight with a lively guitar solo during B-side
Love and Destroy and engages in some kind of riff-trading
face-off with Kapranos for 40ft. The singer subsequently
takes us through an extended introduction of his fellow
group-members before flowing seamlessly into the "Superphantastisch"
chant of Darts of Pleasure.
of the album is aired, the melancholic yet buoyant-sounding
Auf Asche and the pogo pop of Jacqueline included, but this
is interspersed with fresh material like This Boy, an account
of materialistic greed, and I Am Your Villain, which adds
a dose of wistfulness to a typical Atomic-style bassline.
While the new songs are not wildly different they maintain
the trademark, infectious vigour and should prevent the
high-flying foursome becoming mere one album pan-flashes.
most transparently pre-planned encore ever witnessed then
takes place, without even dimmed lights temporarily creating
the impression the show is over while a huge drum is dragged
onto the stage. This is followed by the entrance of a mystery
drummer clad in a fighter pilot's helmet and tight black
cat suit who thumps a driving glam-rock beat as the rest
of the band return to perform Shopping For Blood.
are also treated to another new song, Your Diary, a tale
of temptation forming another moment of stomping high drama,
and finally, This Fire, Kapranos having a strange, robotic
body-popping fit before leaping into the crowd for some
hands-on adulation from the fans. This forms a typically
exhilarating end to a frantic performance before Alex, Nick,
Bob and Paul take a theatrical, hand-holding bow to enthusiastic,
and fully-deserved, applause.
their set is so confident, cocksure, and professional that
it is easy to forget at times that they are a band still
very much in their infancy and this is a performance befitting
a much more experienced act. They maintain an air of intelligence
and sophistication that is counterbalanced by memorable,
catch-rich tunes and simple yet humorous, sing-a-long lyrics.
Franz Ferdinand prove tonight that they are worthy of their
success and the endless stream of praise heaped upon them
and show how they have made 2004 their own. But can they
keep their seemingly unstoppable momentum going?
the future may hold, It is a pleasure to see a band at the
peak of their powers in full, fun-loving flow - the fuss
over Franz' is well and truly justified.
- Ian Roullier, 10/2004