Words by Chris Pacifico :: Images by Christie Harrison
Franz Ferdinand :: 10.14.05 :: Tower Theater :: Upper Darby, PA
The Scottish lads from Franz Ferdinand put on one vibrant show here at the world famous Tower Theater in Philly. The anxious crowd went wild as soon as the house lights went down. Franz's frontman Alex Kapranos took the stage, guitar in hand, with one lowly spotlight shining down on him. He had a disposition on his face that was a mix between a puppy dog and a little kid lost in K-Mart. It was reminiscent of the scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas right before Charlie Brown says "Lights, please." Sticking his arm in the air, he looked like he was about to do a windmill motion, but instead he started playing and singing the first verse to "Jacqueline." Then, from behind the darkness of the stage, the scruffy-looking bassist Bob Hardy set in with the bass line followed by the rest of the band stepping out and getting into the tune.
Alex Kapranos :: 10.14
From there, "Jacqueline" segued into the organ-tinged "Come on Home" with Kapranos strutting his arms and his upper body like Mick Jagger. If you think the audience was ecstatic then, you should have heard the screams when they went into the first single off of their new album, "Do You Want To." Everyone sort of quasi-promenaded in their seats along with the song's catchy hooks.
While the band's Mercury Prize-wining 2004 self-titled debut showed the world that art-punkers just wanna dance, their recent release You Could Have Had It So Much Better follows the same formula and makes the album a worthy follow-up by exhibiting a hint of jovial compassion on some of the songs. Needless to say, they go over well with a live audience, highlighted this evening with the Revolver-esque "What You Meant." One amazing aspect about this quartet is their stage presence. While all the members are dancing around the stage as they play, Bob Hardy remains ever so still in a halcyon posture while he plucks his bass. But if you look at his face, you can see that he is really absorbed in the music that he's playing.
Paul Thompson :: 10.14
Kapranos dedicated the reggae-tinged "Dark of the Matinee" to a fan in the crowd who was sporting a T-shirt of Scottish acid house paladins The KLF. Next, drummer Paul Thompson stepped out from behind his kit to pick up a guitar and join in on the Byrds-like jangle twang of "Walk Away." Their first American hit "Take Me" had everyone shimmying while the universal "la-la-la's" went around as they played "The Fallen."
Franz Ferdinand :: 10.14 :: Philly
After a few more numbers, the band went backstage for what seemed like a three-minute breather and then came out for an encore that started out with "This Boy." Kapranos encouraged the crowd to get up out of their seats and to cram up near the stage. It's a good thing the fire marshal wasn't in the crowd. Throughout part of the encore, Thompson substituted the drumstick in his left hand for a tambourine and went spastic on his percussion like the bastard son of Keith Moon. After that, two members from what appeared to be the road crew came out and played on the same kit as him, something that a lot of JamBase readers have probably seen at a Medeski Martin & Wood show. It was truly amazing. Anybody can pull off an encore, but in order to pull it off right, a musician must leave on a high note as the band did when they finished things up with an extended and explosive version of the rock-steady "This Fire."
Franz Ferdinand has most assuredly made a name for themselves here in The States. Their new album was only ten days old at the time of the show, but everyone in the audience seemed to already know the words to all of the songs. While their new release is stellar, the tracks that had the most pizzazz were the ones from their self-titled debut. The band has recently gone back over the pond, but should you have the opportunity to catch them live, take a chance and find out what all the hype is about.
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