Live at The Fillmore!
BY JOHN B. MOORE
It’s been more than a decade since Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut took over just about every radio with songs like “Take Me Out” and “This Fire,” earning the Scottish dance rock band platinum status here in the U.S. But the years since have done little to temper the enthusiasm from diehard fans who turned out to see the band 14 years later, and just two months after the group put out their fifth record.
Opening with “Always Ascending,” the title track off their latest – a song that seems to have morphed into an instant classic with fans despite the short amount of time it’s been out – the band played with the enthusiasm and energy of a group headlining stadiums (rather than the 2,500-capacity club they packed that night). On the surface the band seemed to be checking off all of the boxes on the Rock and Roll Cliché Live Show list (Constant namechecks of the city you’re in: “Are you ready to feel the love Philadelphia?” Check; holding the mic out to the crowd to sing the chorus? Several times; bringing up an audience member to play on a song? More about that in a minute, but yup). But none of that seemed to matter as the band played a brilliant set and seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves, rather than simply running through a game of modern rock band bingo.
About two-thirds into the set, singer Alex Kapranos spotted a sign being held up by someone in the audience that read “I want to play drums on ‘Michael’”). Kapranos brought the fan on stage and drummer Paul Thomson handed her his sticks and got up from the drum stool. The fan than led the band into likely the most spirited version of that song the band has ever played, (I apologize in advance for this) with the sit-in drummer not missing a beat. It could not have been scripted better.
The set included a decent mix across their catalogue, including “Come On Home,” (a song they rarely play live) but they rewarded the crowd for sticking around saving the biggest hit, “Take Me Out” toward the end of the show. They closed out with a blistering version of “This Fire”.
The band’s music may not be nearly as ubiquitous today as it was in 2004, but to anyone at this Philly show, it’s clear that Franz Ferdinand is still just as impressive now as they were then.