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Franz Ferdinand
Live review...
Franz Ferdinand
"Good evening, we're Franz Ferdinand from Glasgow". Short, simple, to the point, and then to the tunes - it's a good way to go. Opener 'Bite Hard' is all fuzzy keys and jaunty piano, topped off with Kapranos' devilish vocals, the not-so-secret weapon at the heart of their success. His whip-sharp delivery could turn the phone book into an erotic thriller, with a permanently raised eyebrow and knowing smile. And then, after something off the new album, it's back to the hits we all know and love, breaking out 'Matinee' from their debut, bringing the first reaction and singalong from the crowd as we all reveal ourselves to all be fans of Terry Wogan.

Establishing a general pattern of alternating the old and new, they belt out the knowing tales of indie-art-funk-party tunes designed to get a crowd dancing. Innuendo and tension and barely but perfectly disguised sleaze comes from Kapranos as they show that their new material has given full vent to their hidden adolescent boy. Ok, it was always there - any band with songs about 'Darts of Pleasure' has to have a passing familiarity with the lyrical prowess of late 70s and 80s metal, and old single 'Do You Want To' has an cock-rock edge to the otherwise funky guitar as, keeping in theme, they allow us to repeatedly sing the "lucky, lucky lucky lucky" chorus to an extended climax.

'Twilight Omens' gets only its second live appearance, while a triple hit of 'Walk Away', 'The Fallen' and 'Take Me Out' takes us up to and over the edge, with the middle track becoming a mini-Queen-esque epic of funk and angst bouncing around all over the place but still as cool and tighter than a hipster's jeans while the latter track is just choppy guitar fun delivered with an impressive enthusiasm, despite probably having played it 1000 times in the 5 and a half years since their first Belfast appearance. Closing their regular set with the uber-indie disco sexually ambiguity of 'Michael' - dripping in tension and the biggest big of subversion to hit the mainstream since the likes of 'Walk On The Wild Side' and 'Lola', all you pretenders claiming the grey areas for the publicity, this is how its done properly - and 'Ulysses', which on this crowd's reaction is set to join their canon of must-plays.  

The encore opens with the aforementioned 'Darts of Pleasure', like a lot of tracks, a bit messed up and grown from the recorded versions as they progress and keep life interesting for ourselves and them, giving the older material the dancier edge and flourishes so prevalent on their new album as they take on the likes of The Rapture at their own game. The encore also features their now customary multi-percussion funk-dance breakdown as they and their crew surround the drums on 'Outsiders', something that could be dismissed as a gimmick were it not so tight, and good. Closing with an incendiary 'This Fire' it's only afterwards their standards become apparent as we realise that it was hard to identify the tracks we didn't know and yet they still didn't find time for the likes of 'Jacqueline', 'Tell Her Tonight', 'Evil and a Heathen' and 'Eleanor...', lads come back anytime to play them.

William Johnston

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Gig Details
Venue: Mandela Hall
Location: Belfast
Date: 2/3/2009

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+ Franz Ferdinand