If Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos were an animal, he’d be a leopard. Donning an appropriately textured leopard-print shirt, the forty-one year old bounces and pounces around The Metro Theatre’s stage, flashing smiles and evil eyes at fans even when his band screws up.
The packed venue becomes an indie rock circus, with Gen Y on the dance floor and Gen X standing on platforms a little further back. Playing material from their 2004 self-titled debut right through to this year’s somewhat polarising Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, Franz remain sonically relevant, but just a little bit cheesy.
It’s often said, and routinely repeated, that indie rock is ‘a young man’s game’. Such a claim fails to take into account the stage experience which lines Kapranos’ baby-faced countenance. His tried-and-tested rock moves — the scissor-kick jump, the ‘lift the guitar above your head’ thing — they seem a little tongue in cheek, but the crowd are buying it.
Fan favourites like Take Me Out, The Dark of the Matinee, This Fire, Walk Away, Evil Eye and Love Illumination line the setlist, but it’s clear that the recent material is where the energy simmers, and the older stuff is where things really boil over.
It’s been almost ten years since Take Me Out became an indie-anthem, and Franz Ferdinand have definitely lost some of their ‘cool’ since then. That said, their music remains fun and energetic, and the all-ages crowd are loving every moment. Fill-in bassist Scott smiles almost every time he glances at the mass of moving bodies in front of him.
Franz don’t sound exactly like their records in a live capacity. They’re slightly heavier, more dramatic, and often extend songs to play with fan expectations and to build anticipation. They start an innumerable amount of venue-spanning hand claps (in which the crowd constantly grows out of sync with the beat, come on guys…), and often leave their most well-known punch-lines for fans to belt out. The loudest, “TAKE ME OUT!”
Franz Ferdinand’s 90-minute set is a powerful one. The boys from Glasgow remain a tight live act, and a steady festival favourite with copious amounts of energy. Kapranos’ performance habits and cheesy rock moves make him quirky, yet charming. In that leopard-print shirt, I can’t help feeling like he’s having just a little too much fun.
Gallery: Franz Ferdinand – The Metro Theatre, Sydney 15/11/13
Photos by Yael Stempler