You could say Franz Ferdinand have all the right moves because they provided the right action at their Sydney Metro show. The Glaswegian quartet confidently straddles the lines between two rather different musical styles, meaning it’s sometimes about rock music you can dance to and at other times, dance tunes you can rock out to. Having just released studio album number four, the group know a thing or two about putting on a fine show and they managed to find the right balance between old and new material.
The supports were local lads, Shining Bird. They proved a curious choice of opening act as the five-piece played dreamy, psychedelic pop rock that would’ve been better suited alongside the Brian Jonestown Massacre or Tame Impala. The quintet sounded like they were walking on their own dream or ten, and they willed the audience to journey along with them, but they did so with varying results.
The band’s biggest drawcard is front man, Dane Taylor’s amazing croon. It was like caramel, pleasantries and velvet goodness all rolled into one. At times this meant that he sounded like Freddie Mercury singing Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Simple Mind’s Jim Kerr in “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” or The Righteous Brothers’ in “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”.
The group were an artistic bunch with their guitars shimmering in sound and occasionally pitter-pattering out. “Keep Warm” started off almost hymn-like and spiritual, even though the boys delivered a set that sounded as if they were playing in your lounge room or on a tropical island like Last Dinosaurs. In all, this was a promising show, even if the primary musical genre was not the line of best fit for this particular crowd.
The audience were only here for one band and that was Franz Ferdinand. Their set kicked off with some lights that changed colour and helped build the intensity and overall feeling of theatrics. Then it was time for one of the best dressed men in the business, Alex Kapranos to declare this thing officially open. He said, “Hello Sydney, we’re Franz Ferdinand from Glasgow,” and they launched into the new song, “Bullet”. It was a polite start from this charming man, who was also backed up by a group of merry men.
The last time I saw Franz Ferdinand live – like many of the punters at the Metro – was at the Big Top in Luna Park in 2010. At that show, I remember the crowd danced up a storm and enjoyed all of their catchy and immediate, indie rock tunes. It was also obvious that the group themselves really enjoyed playing, like guitarist Nick McCarthy whose smile never left his face and drummer, Paul Thomson who kept perfect time while also grooving. It’s nice to see that little has changed, apart from their musicianship and talents increasing and seeing them even more adept at their instruments by virtue of time and experience. These three core members were joined tonight by their friend Scott on bass as Robert Hardy was back in Glasgow.
“No You Girls” was an early favourite. It was also the first number of theirs tonight to show how powerful this group really is. It contained all of the punch of the original track (including those all-to-important guitar riffs) and it possessed the crowd like a good curse, making it impossible for them not to dance. Ditto, “The Dark Of The Matinée”, which was all about singing and jumping. It also built up to a big finish and this is something the band shares in common with the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – because their tracks often have big payoffs at the very end.
There was lots of energy pulsing through the room, especially in the heavy chorus of “Do You Want To”. Things were a tad quieter in the crooning, sixties-like pop of “Walk Away”, before Kapranos checked in on the audience like a mother hen and proved he is a real sweetheart. “Fresh Strawberries” also had a similar influence from that same period with its jangly guitars. The new songs fit in well with the old material and filled the room with real warmth, allowing the band to prove that they are not content to just sit back and trade on nostalgia alone.
“Can’t Stop Feeling” was as fun as a cartoon theme with the synth zipping and zapping along while also being a bit like Bowie and a lot like a party machine. They received positive reactions for “Darts Of Pleasure”, while “Take Me Out” was something else. The latter was a big anthem that sounded as fresh as it had done back in 2004. A new song that also seems destined to achieve big heights is the crunchy, “Love Illumination”. The guitars were like good, old-fashioned Aussie pub rock mixed in with the raw power of The Hives, before it was a case of the band making it all look completely effortless, as they added “Ulysses” and “This Fire” to an almost-faultless set.
The boys returned for an encore and finished with “Right Action” and “Outsiders”. The latter was a great choice of finale, with Kapranos joining his three band mates on percussion. The four men had played an excellent show and had found the right balance between old and new songs plus loud, good times and some quieter, contemplative moments. Franz Ferdinand ultimately proved that they’re like a good wine; they’ve gotten better with age as they have all the right thoughts, right words and right actions.
Franz Ferdinand’s Sydney set list:
2. No You Girls
3. The Dark Of The Matinée
4. Tell Her Tonight
5. Evil Eye
6. Do You Want To
7. Walk Away
8. Fresh Strawberries
9. Can’t Stop Feeling
10. Brief Encounters
11. Darts Of Pleasure
12. The Fallen
13. Take Me Out
14. Love Illumination
16. This Fire
17. Goodbye Lovers & Friends
18. Right Action
Originally published on 17 November 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/franz-ferdinand-shining-bird-metro-theatre-sydney-15-11-13
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