December 2005


God! I went to see Franz Ferdinand last night. They were totally, totally fabulous. Almost as good as Radiohead 2 years ago and that’s high praise.

I was slightly dreading it as I schlepped out to Alexandra Palace in the November rain. The last few gigs I’ve been to have been terrible (Dandy Warhols, you suck live) and I had the vague notion that FF would suck too. I loved the first album, but only in small doses, and I’d barely listened to the new one.

But now I understand! the albums mean nothing. This is music to be heard live and played live. From the moment they came on the stage after a dreary support, you could smell they were good. There was a stylish black silk backcloth with their trademark constructivist diagonals and they powered through a punchy “This Boy” before – kaboom! – the silk drops and there’s a full black-and-white video screen framed in roaring red and dizzying, visceral, strobey lighting and they’re singing “Do You Want To”: possibly the greatest pop song of the Noughties.

Infact, having seen them play – smiling, full of fun, clearly having a very stylish blast – I’m pretty convinced they’re the best and most representative band of the Noughties. Songs like “Take Me Out”, “The Dark of the Matinee”, “What You Meant” and the sublimely dirty “Michael” should be played top volume and pogoed to for the whole decade.

It’s the acid test of a good gig when 2 bars into “Do You Want To” I had surrendered to the forward rush and was bouncing up and down like a loon, whooping and punching the air. 15 songs later, I was still bouncing – though now I’m 35 and halfway to my biblical innings, my bounce is not quite as springy. Still I felt that euphoric – “I don’t care if I get mashed to a pulp down among the beer cans and bottles – this is the real thing!” – feeling.

God they were good. Alex Kapranos has fully grown into the smart, joyously posing rock star. He stands on speakers, strikes poses, collapses on the ground – ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek but never ironic, never uncutting the sheer exuberance of the music. Thrash, thrash, thrash, wham. Fast, loud, electric pop. Sigh.

For the record, the Village Voice had it right when they called FF, “15 pounds of fuck puppy in a 10 pound bag”. Excellent, and thankyou Mel, for pointing it out…