The Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be delighted. Assassinated in June of 1914, and destined only to be mentioned now and then in the odd historical debate, he has enjoyed a much-raised profile over the last couple of years, thanks in no small part to the Franz Ferdinand du jour, a group of Glaswegians who have adopted his name in their quest for musical stardom. Indeed, since their hit single Take Me Out exploded on to the scene back in early 2004, they have gone on to become one of the biggest bands in Britain, effectively making the name a household one.
They’ve also made a fair impression elsewhere, becoming one of the few British groups to take on States successfully – somewhere they’ve just been, in fact, promoting their second hugely acclaimed album in as many years. It’s now the turn of Britain to witness the live stylings of tracks from their recent LP You Could Have It So Much Better, and tonight they rolled into the Ice Arena in Nottingham, to showcase these – as well as their already classic material from their debut – in front of 8,000 devoted fans.
It was some show they put on, too. Whatever you may think of their music, they’re certainly entertainers who know how to give the audience value for money, this evening playing with an enthusiasm that you might not naturally expect given the vast number of shows they’ve played in the last 18 months or so.
Appearing on stage clad in their usual dapper attire and looking every inch the international rock stars they’ve become, they burst directly into the manic adrenaline rush of This Boy, a suitably charged set opener. For the next hour and a quarter, they ran through the highlights of their two released records, all of which elicited wild roars of approval from many in the crowd.
The euphoric Do You Want To was aired three songs in, and provided a truly memorable moment. Quite possibly the catchiest single of 2005, it’s become a quintessential Franz song, one that fully lives up to their manifesto promise of making music for girls to dance to. I’m Your Villian, with its rather dramatic introduction and incendiary tempo changes, was equally thrilling.
New single Walk Away amply displays that they sound equally fine with the pace slowed down, and tonight constituted a mid set highlight, with Nick McCarthy’s haunting guitar and Alex Kapranos’ typically woozy vocals echoing around the huge room with a surprising ease. The piano based Eleanor Put Your Boots On also proved to be a hit, this a track that recalls the breezy, carefree nature of The Velvet Underground or Bob Dylan. Certainly, both these compositions display a stark musical progression from their debut, and effectively dispel any accusations of one dimensionality.
Expectedly, Take Me Out was greeted like a long lost friend, and sounded just as vital and exciting as it did the first time we heard it, before a barrage of hits – Michael, Jacqueline and This Fire, amongst others – rounded off the evening with a panache to suggest we are witnessing a band at the peak of their powers. Interest in the Archduke, it appears, is unlikely to wane just yet.