Scottish alt-rock band Franz Ferdinand were on top of the music world following the release of their self-titled debut in 2004. The awards and accolades quickly piled up. The band took home the Mercury Music Prize and an Ivor Novello Award in 2004, and they won two BRIT Awards in 2005. The video for “Take Me Out” earned them a Breakthrough Video MTV Award, and they would go on to become million-sellers in the US. While not reaching the same dizzying heights as their first release, Franz Ferdinand would release their second album, You Could Have It So Much Better in 2005 to both critical and financial success. The release even earned a Grammy Award nomination. Building on the success of their first two albums their third release, 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the band shifted musical direction to a more dance-pop sound. While not being as widely embraced as their first two albums, the album still received positive reviews. Four years later, Franz Ferdinand released their fourth studio album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action which was hailed as a return to form and thoroughly revitalized the band. They followed the release with a stellar tour that lasted into 2014.
Franz Ferdinand have not released an album since Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, and have not toured together since winding down in 2014. While several side projects have kept everyone busy, including FFS, a joint effort with the duo Sparks, Franz Ferdinand have kept a low profile. Then last summer founding member and guitarist Nick McCarthy, left the group to attend to family commitments. That was followed by word of frontman Alex Kapranos releasing an album with Indie Supergroup, BNQT, which features members of Band of Horses. Midlake, and Grandaddy. Just when it seemed like Franz Ferdinand might quietly fade into a more permanent hiatus, the band announced that they were embarking on their first North American tour in nearly 3 years. The tour, their first without Nick McCarthy, will hit a combination of clubs, theaters, and a few music festivals. Concert Addicts caught the band when they recently stopped at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, NC.
Despite storms earlier in the day and the threat of more rain, dedicated fans lined up early for the sold out show. The Lincoln Theatre was packed and rumbling with anticipation when the lights dropped and one by one the members of Franz Ferdinand took to the stage. The show roared to life with “The Dark of the Matinée” from their self-titled debut followed by “No You Girls” from their third album. The band were operating at a high energy level from the start. New touring members Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie did an admirable job of integrating into the lineup and the band remained tight throughout the evening. Frontman Alex Kapranos was in constant motion, whether moving around the stage bathed in the impressive light show, or pogoing in place when he wasn’t belting out song lyrics. Despite having been seasoned by years of touring, Kapranos was every bit the charismatic rock star whether chatting with the crowd between songs or standing at the front of the stage connecting with the frenzied fans. The crowd was definitely eating up the engrossing performance. Fans were jubilantly singing along, clapping, bouncing and dancing, turning the Lincoln into a sweat-soaked cathartic dance party. The seventeen song setlist pulled from across their catalog but was heavy on the hits and fan favorites with highlights including “Do You want To,” “Walk Away,” “Love Illumination,” and “Ulysses.” However, it was the songs from their debut that got the greatest response from the manic fans with “Michael” and “Darts of Pleasure” played side-by-side before a barnstorming “Take Me Out” late in the set drove the crowd to a euphoric peak.
A three song encore brought the show to a close with a blistering “This Fire” that left the crowd stunned into submission as the house lights came on. The show in Raleigh proved that despite the time away, Franz Ferdinand have not lost their mojo. The veteran Scotsmen can still deliver a performance filled with catchy melodies and hook-laden grooves soaked in piss and vinegar.
Opening the show were Atlanta-based indie rockers Omni, who played a well-received set of late 70s – early 80s post-punk generated with a lo-fi indie rock asthetic. Omni’s songs were pulled from their brilliant debut album Deluxe, which is definitely worth checking out.
Photos of Franz Ferdinand + Omni @ The Lincoln Theatre – May 25th 2017