Franz Ferdinand at The Olympia Theatre, 11th February 2018
Franz Ferdinand arrived during the mid-noughties and quickly established themselves as frontrunners of a new wave of Indie bands looking to make their mark on the dancefloor. Equipped with a voice that was as malleable as it was enunciated, Alex Kopranos fronted a band with unbelievable chic and even more memorable hooks. Their self-titled album went on to win the much-coveted Mercury award and solidify them as a band that would live long in the memory of a host of Dad rockers and millennial indie kids alike.
Since then they have gone on to release four albums (as well as the collaborative FFS with art-rockers, Sparks), interchanging this dance-punk framework with that of a more ballady persuasion (Walk Away, Eleanor Put Your Boots On, Katherine Kiss Me etc.), complete with well-articulated and oft-funny lyricism, as well as a sharp sense of narrative and song structure.
Both these demographics turned up to see the Scottish band promote their latest album ‘Always Ascending’. But first a glimpse of stars-in-the-making, Dubliners, Fontaines. It’s over a year since they stormed Whelan’s with a performance at the Ones to Watch festival. In that time they have generated hype as Ireland’s new indie buzz band. But in contrast to ones that have gone before them, Fontaines are here to stay.
Augmented by insistent yet hugely dynamic riffs, frontman, Grian Chatten’s pedestrian figure behind the microphone compliments perfectly his gruff but well-measured vocal delivery to produce a sound that stands somewhere between the post-punk of their heroes and the alluring Irishness of a band with passion in their hearts and effortlessly cool determination in their faces.
With corkers like Liberty Belle and Chequeless Reckless, it’s little wonder they’ve been touted by KEXP and Stereogum in America recently. Check out our Plec Picks 2018 feature on Fontaines here because support slots for Indie’s big guns is only the beginning. Read our Plec Picks 2018 feature on The Fontains.
Opening with recent single, Lazy Boy, it was as if FF never left. The subject matter might’ve shifted slightly with middle-age setting in and there may be more synths than there used to be, but Kapranos is as enamouring as ever, his nimble frame cutting frequent scissor kicks across the stage and his presence and crowd interaction both captivating and inclusive.
Nick McCarthy will be missed but new members, Julian Corrie and Dinot Bardot slot in well, particularly Corrie on keys. But really it’s Kapranos who binds it all together. New numbers go down well, especially Finally which pays tribute to people who enter your life when you need them most and give you a sense of belonging and contentment; and the wonderfully expansive Feel The Love Go which dips and dives almost with aplomb.
Some older classics go by, more out of formality than the timeless result they should have achieved, but it must be hard to maintain the same enthusiasm for something you’ve played a gazillion times. Nevertheless, Do You Wanna and set-closer, This Fire reach new climbs as Kapranos leads several in-song call and responses and refrains. Michael impresses too.
Ulyssess provides the perfect prelude to the latter during the encore, Franz Ferdinand’s own little after-party if you will, cries of “You’re Never Going Home” filling the listener with hopes that this mightn’t be a Sunday, fun shall be had well into the early hours and you won’t have to go to work tomorrow.
Despite this, the band are on hand afterwards to sign copies of the new album and engage in conversation with the fans (all free of charge, eat your heart out Kendrick!).
Overall, a splendid evening. And one that could find comfort in knowing that Franz Ferdinand no longer necessarily have anything to prove, they stand on the podium of indie’s elite. And for as long as they continue bringing as much entertainment as they did here nobody will come close to knocking them off it.