[…continued from previous post]
What was interesting about the tour was that when it was announced, I assumed that a new album was in the pipeline, ready for release either a week into the tour or right before. I searched and only saw that Franz Ferdinand were curating a compilation, with a new track on it type of thing, but no. Their last FF album was 2013’s “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.” The sole disc of theirs I’ve not heard, so three songs in when I heard a song I did not recognize, I assumed it was from the 2013 album. At the end of the song Alex Kaproyas named it as “Paper Cages.” Now I comprehend the tour without an album. It seems that Franz Ferdinand are road-testing new material across North America right now.
I have to say that I’ve since researched their recorded canon and compared posted setlists to see that FF have slipped four new belters into the flow that evening. I’m here to state that everything made perfect sense live. There were no jarring moments that broke the flow. The show was mostly their stock-in-trade tight, hooky pop rock with a leftfield Post-Punk slant that works for me. Before buying “Tonight,” I had read some commentary that the last two albums moved into dance territory, but I really didn’t hear it when playing “Tonight” the several times I have since buying it. Nothing about this concert was dance oriented, though the floor was packed so tightly that any grooving was nearly out of the question.
Nope, this show was all about polished pop rock played for maximum effect. Mostly upbeat, but with a select few ebbs of energy to impart a sense of movement. Ten singles, four deep cuts and four new ones. I mentioned earlier how there was a bit of a bass problem, that was corrected as the show began. Other aspects of the show were exemplary from the get-go. Here’s the Orange Peel setlist:
The Orange Peel – May 26, 2017
- The Dark of the Matinée
- No You Girls
- Paper Cages
- Do You Want To
- Love Illumination
- The Fallen
- Walk Away
- Huck & Jim
- Darts of Pleasure
- Lazy Boy
- Take Me Out
- Goodbye Lovers & Friends
- Always Ascending
- This Fire
One of the things I find ingratiating about FF are the vocals by Alex Kopranos. There’s a hint of Billy MacKenzie’s phrasing [if not range] which meant that his teaming with Russell Mael two years ago made perfect sense. He’s an inventive vocalist who makes certain to vary his phrasing and attack widely throughout his performance. There’s something about his delivery that pulls me in. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the band were chopped liver. Far from it! One of the delights of this concert were the rock solid backup harmonies that all of the band [save for holdout, bassist Bob Hardy] contributed throughout the show. It’s not every band that can have their drummer contributing good backing vocals throughout a show, but Paul Thomson pulled it off, as did new members Julian Corrie [lead guitar] and Dino Bardot on keys and guitar.
Following the new “Lazy Boy” which Kopranos the title of afterward, the show kicked into high gear for the wrap. The always welcome “Take Me Out” served notice as FF’s calling card as it hit the charts worldwide, but there’s a reason for that beyond payola, yes? I really appreciate how this band were actually a band; one with an actual drummer in this era of samples and loops. The shifts of tempo that occurred in “Take Me Out” were something of a manifesto for this band as they are not afraid to make something as currently esoteric as tempo shifts a calling card for their career in pop. I’m guessing that not to many bands that use changing tempos within a song bother the charts very much. Especially these days.
The set closed with the superb “Ulysses” from “Tonight” being an excellent stab at an epic range show closer as they dramatically took the three minute number to easily twice that length. The full house had been clapping along with much of the show all evening, but at The Orange Peel, with its wooden floors, the crowd clapping and stomping for an encore didn’t have to wait long. The band quickly returned with the unfamiliar “Goodbye Lovers + Friends” followed by the completely unfamiliar [as in new] “Always Ascending” before returning to solid classics like “Jacqueline” and a rousing “This Fire” which of course got the crowd singing along as they stretched it out for climactic impact.
With that, the show was over and I walked out into the cool night air having just been reminded what well-balanced, commercially successful music derived from Post-Punk that manages to pay fealty to its stylistic antecedents and sell reasonably well sounded like. This is what we want rock music to sound like, but it seems so difficult to actually achieve. That Franz Ferdinand have achieved this in the last dozen years, and seem on track to keep achieving it for the foreseeable future is cause for guarded optimism from this old cynic.
But Kopranos needs to cut that hair.
Franz Ferdinand | Summer Tour | 2017
31st May | House Of Blues | Cleveland, OH
02nd Jun | Danforth Music Hall | Toronto, ONT
03rd Jun | Metropolis | Montreal, QBC
04th Jun | Governors Ball | New York, NY
05th Jun | Warsaw | Brooklyn, NY
07th Jun | College Street Music Hall | New Haven, CT
08th Jun | Pearl Street | Northampton, MA
10th Jun | Live 105’s BFD | Mountain View, CA
11th Jun | Oceanside Pier Amphitheater | Oceanside, CA
12th Jun | The Regent Theater | Los Angeles, CA
14th Jun | Rams Head Live! | Baltimore, MD
15th Jun | Jefferson Theater | Charlottesville, VA
16th Jun | Firefly Music Festival | Dover, DE
17th Jun | Alternative Buffalo’s Kerfuffle | Buffalo, NY
12th Jul | Electric Castle (12th – 16th July) | Cluj
21st Jul | Truck Festival (21st – 23rd July) | Steventon
22nd Jul | Welcome To The Village Festival | Leeuwarden
27th Jul | Kendal Calling (27th-30th July) | The Lake District
28th Jul | Low Festival (28th – 30th July) | Benidorm
03rd Aug | A Summer’s Tale (3rd – 5th Aug) | Luhmuhlen
05th Aug | Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival | Inverness-shire
12th Aug | Rock Oz’Arenes | Avenches
25th Aug | Rock En Seine | Paris
26th Aug | Cabaret Vert | Charleville Mezieres
27th Aug | Victorious Festival | Portsmouth
29th Aug | Paradiso | Amsterdam
30th Aug | Rivierenhof | Antwerp
01st Sep | Beat Festival | Empoli
02nd Sep | Arena Alpe Adria | Lignano Sabbiadoro
05th Sep | Den Atelier | Luxembourg
07th Sep | Tohu-Bohu Festival | Veyras
07th Sep | Ocean Climax Festival (7th – 10th Sept) | Bordeaux
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