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Live Review: Franz Ferdinand – 15th November 2013 – Metro Theatre, Sydney, Australia

4 min read

It has been more than 3 years since the Glasgow-based band last stepped foot in Australia. Since then, the band kept touring, took a break, nearly broke up, wrote and recorded a new album, tried the new songs at some gigs and released their fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.

The packed Metro Theatre seemed small for a band with several classic indie hits and new album cuts that get frequent airplay on Triple J. However, the intimate atmosphere allowed the usually engaging Franz to bond even more with its audience.

The support act, South-Coast-based band Shining Bird, did a fine job in entertaining the crowd with its brand of rock supported by big guitar riffs and eerie synths that reminded me of U2. Lead guitarist Alastair Webster attracted much attention simply by stepping on stage with a kimono, socks and sandals!

After a very quick change in setup, Franz appeared at 9:45pm to the same dark musical intro that opened its last Sydney appearance in 2010.

The rapid-fire opener Bullet with its headbanging-worthy choruses already got people jumping, showing that Franz had lost none of its power and excitement.

The mood stayed high for the following few tracks. No You Girls (off 2009’s Tonight) was a clear crowd favourite. Recent Triple J staple Evil Eye was bare live compared to the multilayered studio version but was still a funky sing-along.

Do You Want To was a strut-fest, and the lengthened ‘lucky, lucky, you’re so lucky’ hook was a tease before the climactic ending.

Lead singer and guitarist Alex Kapranos still has the gift of connecting with the crowd. He was particularly seductive on this night, suggestively raising his eyebrows at people in the crowd, jumping, kicking and flamboyantly swivelling his hips to the beat. The always-professional frontman also sang with a sore throat (as I found out after the gig). Even during songs when he was only holding the microphone and not playing his guitar, Alex looked suave.

Walk Away sounded as bittersweet and beautiful as ever, before Fresh Strawberries provided some much needed sunshine on this rainy night in Sydney.

Can’t Stop Feeling has taken on many forms. Originally recorded for the band’s debut before ending up on Tonight, it was transformed yet again into a fitting mashup with Donna Summer’s iconic electronic disco anthem, I Feel Love.

Guitarist and keyboardist Nick McCarthy particularly shines on this track as well as on Brief Encounters, playing some lovely synth parts that make me pine to see Auf Achse live. Apart from his usual keyboard bits and the funkier guitar riffs on tracks like The Dark of the Matinee, he finally sang lead vocals on the oldie Tell Her Tonight.

The greatest sing-along tracks were saved to the end and hit the crowd one by one. Darts of Pleasure and The Fallen had their respective ‘super fantastisch’ and ‘la-la-la-la-la’ hooks extended to the delight of the crowd. Legendary breakout single Take Me Out was slightly slower than usual, but the crowd was able to appreciate its epic riffs even more. The mid-song guitar exchange between Alex and Nick in Love Illumination was perfectly executed live. Everyone jumped along to Ulysses (which has another ‘la-la-la-la-la’ hook) and This Fire simply sizzled with passion.

Scott Paterson of Sons and Daughters performed well on bass duties for Bob Hardy, who couldn’t make the trip to Australia.

Drummer Paul Thomson did not miss a beat, even when singing backup on many of the songs.

After the ‘farewell’ of Goodbye Lovers and Friends, Franz returned for an encore with the infectious Right Action off their current album. This was followed by Outsiders (the closer to 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better), during which Alex took on the ghostly synths whilst Nick strummed along on guitar. At the end was the staple of a lengthy but memorable drum solo by all four performers with four pairs of drumsticks!

Franz wrapped up at 11:20pm to ecstatic cheers and applause. I didn’t get to see the other potential encores (Michael and my two favourites off the new album, Stand on the Horizon and Treason! Animals) for obvious reasons, but I was still fulfilled.

Overall, Franz Ferdinand is a slick machine live in concert that isn’t afraid of mixing the old with the new and deviating from the album versions.

The incredible lighting during the show shifted from aquamarine greens to fiery reds to seizure-inducing strobe lighting. Sound engineer Michael Parker ensured that each instrument stood out in the mix.

Alex and Nick are charming performers, as they make audiences happy with their energy, enthusiasm, joy and interactions with the crowd. As a result, Franz Ferdinand remains one of the best live bands around. Its distinctive, danceable riffs are guaranteed to get people grooving at their gigs for years to come.