Sure, sure. I was late to the Franz Ferdinand party. Quite frankly, I gave the entire early naughties New New Wave Of New Wave [?] a big miss figuring that I’d heard it all in 1978… then heard the reboot in the 90s as well! So I never heard The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, The Editors… did I miss any of the usual suspects? Oh, I did buy an Interpol album at a thrift store: not bad. Of all of them, FF had by far the biggest profiles in The States.
Still, I managed to live my mundane life without hearing them… just the way I like it. It takes a very powerful force to pierce my veil of privacy. You would not believe the numerous performers of the last 30 years whom I have never heard a note of. It’s a prodigious list of some of the biggest names in music. Taking care of my hearing is one thing; I always use hearing protection at concerts. I started at the Jane’s Addiction concert in 1990 since it was being held in what amounted to a metal box, and I have not looked back since. Taking care of my brain is even more important! So I judiciously limit what gets in. You can’t unhear anything, after all.
It wasn’t until 2015 and the debut album by F•F•S, the Franz Ferdinand/Sparks teamup album, that I finally took the bait and bought the DLX 2xCD of FF’s debut album. Finding it enjoyable, I’ve been adding the rest of their oeuvre to the Record Cell. When they turned up on The Orange Peel’s concert calendar a month or two ago, buying a ticket was a no-brainer. The only difficulty was in finding parking for the show that was free. The budget is currently tight, but last weekend kicked off Beer Week [insert foghorn SFX] in Asheville, so the scant street parking had all of the meters under the dreaded red hood. I ended up walking across downtown to see the show.
At 9 sharp, the opener Omni, took to the stage. I had not heard of the Atlanta trio before, but FF sure knew how to pick ’em. The synth-free trio capably knew their way around a Post-Punk roadmap, with left-field chops aplenty and the mightiest of drummers giving their sharp, spiky tunes maximum freedom. The rhythmic complexity gave these songs an exhilarating kick that was very welcome to an old hack like myself. That their short, vibrant songs mostly tended to have cold endings was their only seeming achilles heel. Otherwise, if you were a fan of Wire or Television [raises hand] there was a lot to appreciate here! They quickly won over the three-quarters capacity crowd packing itself into The Orange Peel as well. Speaking of “Wire,” why not sample below?
After a suitable interval, it was Franz Ferdinand to the stage. This was their first US tour without founding member Nick McCarthy, but since I had never seen them before, I can’t say it mattered. Singer Alex Kopranos took o the stage clad in rock star black and was… uh oh, sporting shoulder length blonde rock god locks! Now there’s something I don’t usually see in concert. They dove right in to the debut album with the infectious “The Dark Of The Matinée” opening the set. Sound for this number dipped into the red for the bass guitar of Bob Hardy; leaving the sound skirting the ragged edges of the dreadful bass fracking for the first handful of numbers. Omni had excellent sound but openers usually get less wattage. Fortunately, by the fifth number in, the sound had been corrected by an engineer who was earning his pay that night.
The Orange Peel looked at near capacity with no much room for dancing once they began playing. It’s really unusual for me to be at a concert that’s sold out, or close to it. Usually, bands I like play to scant audience, so this was a really different concert experience for me. Case in point, I had just seen The Blasters with The Delta Bombers at The Grey Eagle the night prior. Maybe 200 people were there at most for the night of rockabilly and roots rock. This night’s show was on a completely different level. Kopranos was every inch the rock entertainer working the crowd to the last row of fans against the back wall.
Next: …Road Testing