Welcome back Franz.
Franz Ferdinand returned to the spotlight in their home town of Glasgow but in the unfamiliar surroundings of the cities Grand Ole Opry. With a capacity of six hundred crammed into the tiny country and western club, Franz unleashed five new songs during the course of their set, which also featured singles, album tracks and old B-side favourite 'Shopping For Blood.'
Opening with 'Michael', it immediately felt like the boys hadn't been away such was the ease that they slid back into the old routine. Obviously the crowd were on their side but it was a solid introduction, quickly following onto another old pleaser 'Come On Home.' Any reference to home in Glasgow was always going to get the crowd cheering harder and when the cheers finally dies down, it was time for the first new track of the evening.
This song had an intro like The Eagles 'Hotel California' on acid but quickly changed into a more expected rock riff with the usual dancey overtones. It seemed to be well appreciated but the next song led the crowd into the first sing-song of the night with 'Walk Away' unleashing some of the most piercing female vocals heard in a long time.
If the boys make fools of themselves hollering 'Live Forever' or 'Wonderwall', the females directly behind us in the Opry did themselves no favours at with their wailing to this track, which was a shame as that aside, it was an excellent song!
Although if 'Walk Away' featured some bad singalong vocals from other members of the crowd, 'Shopping For Blood' probably induced the same from this writer. As an old B-side, its always been a hidden pleasure from the band but the way it refers to Glasgows Merchant City area and its ludicrously heavy keyboard fills has always made it a favourite and it was good to hear it still has a place in the bands live show.
And this was the pattern of the night, it wasn't specifically to road test new material, neither was it just a greatest hits set. It may have been a bit rough around the edges, in particular the vocal mix wasn't the best at times but how many times in the future are you going to be able to see Franz Ferdinand in such a small venue?
The old hits like 'Take Me Out' and 'The Fallen' were as good as always and if you've seen the boys before, you'll know what to expect. Therefore, we may as well take a specific look at the remaining new songs that were on show this evening. The song titles given are all based on how the songs ran or maybe had repeated phrases so they shouldn't be taken as confirmed
'You Better Run' kicked off in the manner of one of the piano led tracks from The Beatles 'White Album' but the angry guitars soon kicked in and the longer the track continued, the better it got. Definitely expect this to be a future live favourite.
'English Goodbye' started off in a very glam manner with fuzz overtones, almost like Suede after Bernard Butler left. It had a charging chorus and managed to throw in a few time changes. Like the previous new track, this song got progressively better as the track continued.
The closing track before the encore was another new one, which had the repeating refrain 'You Can Do It' running through it. Franz may be well known for their lunging time changes and their breakdown but this track could beat the rest hands down as it almost separates into three different sections. The opening section was bass heavy whilst the last section featured a keyboard refrain which wouldn't have been out of place on an early 90s Italia House track.
The encore kicked off with another new track and 'Turn It On' (which was a confirmed title) had a massive sounding squelchy keyboard riff running through it, and with this electronic edge being allied to the Messiah-like delivery of Alex Kapranos, there was an obvious Depeche Mode feel to this track.
All the new songs featured the keyboard and on first impressions, existing fans of Franz Ferdinand have got nothing to worry about the next album. It was also interesting to note the amount of time changes and seperate sections that were occurring in the new tracks. Perhaps its looking too much into it but there are plenty of instances when lennon and McCartney created a new song by welding smaller sections of their individual tracks together to make one new song and perhaps this has been happening with the Franz boys as well. Either way, all the material was welcomed home like a debut album track and fans of the band should have no worries about the next album.
With the final track of the evening, 'The Outsiders' featuring a member of the audience plucked from the crowd to assist the drumming, the night may have lacked a few notable hits but as a reunion, it worked extremely well and all being well, the full-scale return of Franz Ferdinand won't be too long in coming.