Franz Ferdinand’s latest album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, was a somewhat mixed affair – a decent 5-track EP was swallowed up by some truly terrible songs. The album simultaneously contained some of their best work alongside their worst, and as such in my review of the album I questioned whether time was up for the band.
I caught them live in Newcastle at the O2 Academy recently where they toured their new album. After poor support from Eagulls, who gave the impression that they didn’t want to be performing that night by barely moving and never engaging with the audience, Franz Ferdinand sauntered onstage to rapturous applause. They had a dedicated fanbase in the audience that night – some held banners aloft whilst others shouted and screamed along to every song they performed and pretty much every one in the crowd descended into a mosh pit – and this all only added to the overall vibe of the night. Following the lacklustre support, the vibe was electric.
Franz Ferdinand played an impressive 23-song setlist which included some of their best songs alongside some of their new cuts. They began with ‘Bullet’ from the new album along with ‘Fresh Strawberries’ and ‘Evil Eye’ – whilst the latter is one of the best songs of their career, most of the new songs didn’t really excite the audience greatly and I couldn’t help but think that others supported my questioning the longevity of this band.
But when they played their biggest songs the band delivered, and the audience went wild. ‘The Dark of the Matinée’, easily their best song, was slowed down somewhat but was performed incredibly, as were ‘No You Girls’, ‘Auf Achse’ and ‘Lucid Dreams’. It was clear that the audience wanted their old songs played more than their new stuff, but all of them mixed together created a diverse and varying set that pleased everybody.
‘Stand On The Horizon’ and ‘Brief Encounters’ worked particularly well live, as lead singer Alex Kapranos alternated between strumming his guitar and belting out the lyrics. He and fellow guitarist Nick McCarthy knew how to work the crowd, and they got us all singing and jumping and clapping. A particular highlight was during the encore when they performed perhaps their biggest bit ‘This Fire’, in which they got the crowd to scream the chorus out in varying pitches that resulted in one of those performances that are hard to explain and can only be experienced in person. You know which ones I mean – the ones that get you truly excited and thankful that you’re there on the night.
Other highlights include their performance of an electric-infused remix of ‘Michael’, where the three guitarists descended upon the drums to join Paul Thomson as all four members beat out the tune and adlibbed an impressive performance and ‘Outsiders’ in which all four members of the band gave it their all for a performance that induced goose bumps.
Their encore consisted of ‘Right Action’, ‘Darts of Pleasure’, ‘This Fire’ and the stunning ‘Goodbye Lovers & Friends’ – the particular standout of both the album and the night. But once more it reaffirmed my belief that this band has come to its natural conclusion and whilst I, and a lot of other fans, will be upset if and when this announcement arrives, at least the band can say they went out on a high.