Despite not having quite the same commercial clout that they once did, Franz Ferdinand are still clearly as big a live draw as ever – attracting a capacity crowd to the Olympia for the only Irish date on their current busy international tour. Sharply dressed in tailor-made monochromatic suits, they start the show as they mean to go on; giving it 110% with ‘Bullet’ from their 2013 album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Quickly moving on to more familiar tracks from their debut album, they prompt screams of excitement with pitch-perfect renditions of ‘The Dark of the Matinee’ and ‘Tell Her Tonight’.
Alex Kapranos leaps and kicks while strumming out those unmistakeable hooky riffs and catchy lyrics that have seen the band achieve top ten rankings on both sides of the Atlantic. His equally energetic founding-member bandmate Nick McCarthy somehow finds opportunities aplenty to flirt with the hysterical girls in the front row while thrusting his guitar toward the crowd as if projecting the chords straight into their upstretched arms. Bassist Bob Hardy, who started out as an artist and only learned to play the bass guitar when one was given to him as a gift, is less animated in his performance and contents himself with pacing back and forth, and concentrating on the job at hand.
Kapranos dedicates ‘Fresh Strawberries’ to their support act, English post-punk newcomers Eagulls but other than this there is very little in the way of chit-chat between songs during their 90 minute set, as one foot-stomping track rolls straight into the next. While some would hail their focus on belting out as many tracks as possible as a positive thing, better communication with the crowd would have made for a more engaging experience, even if it were well-rehearsed and clichéd.
They keep the attention and interest of the audience focussed with their trademark mid-song tempo transformations, the most memorable of which being that in ‘Take Me Out’ which sees the crowd go wild. What seems like hundreds of mobile phones are held high to capture shaky footage with distorted audio which will no doubt premier on YouTube within hours.
‘Outsiders’ finds all four band members gathered around the drum kit, ditching their guitars and impressively keeping in time to create a tribal sounding finale. Despite their energetic performances, Kapranos and McCarthy have barely broken a sweat after more than twenty rocking tracks, all-the-while soaking up the attention lavished upon them from the ladies before them.
The prescribed three song encore appropriately ends with ‘Goodbye Lovers and Friends’; the eighth track to be performed from Right Thoughts... A group bow and a brief goodbye, ending an entertaining show which went down well with the enthusiastic fans. That live status looks set to last another year at least.
Photo: Olga Kuzmenko