Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts. Twenty years ago, it was The Smiths, just a decade later it was Oasis‘ turn. Franz Ferdinand are this generation’s heroes. Remember queuing at a record shop when your new favourite band releases a new single, just so you can hear the B-sides? Pouring over each and every lyric? Franz Ferdinand inspire that sort of devotion.
This tour is probably the last chance fans will have to see the band in more intimate venues such as the Leadmill. For, make no mistake, megastardom awaits this quartet, which means waving goodbye to venues where you can see the whites of your audiences’ eyes.
Before they make their much anticipated entrance though, Sons And Daughters had the job of warming up the crowd. Hailing from Scotland and featuring two members of arch-miserablists Arab Strap, they were quite superb. Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson shared vocal duties, showcasing their wonderfully intense, rockabilly-tinged songs. The addition of a mandolin on several songs added to the band’s quality, lending a folky element to proceedings.
Twenty minutes really wasn’t long enough for them, but songs such as the excellent Johnny Cash and Dance Me In made a real impression – so much so that I’ve already ordered their debut album Love The Cup.
The Fiery Furnaces were next up – their debut album Gallowsbird Bark is a remarkably quirky mix of all kinds of styles, which was reflected in their performance tonight. They got off to a great start, with lead singer Eleanor Friedberger wailing about losing her dog and finding it again before the band crashed in.
They proceeded to play non-stop for about half an hour, which was undeniably impressive, but it didn’t really give the audience any time to take in their unique mix of folk and blues. It basically turned into a very long jam session, with several songs from Gallowsbird Bark being reprised a couple of times. Musically they couldn’t be faulted, but it was a bit short on memorable tunes.
Memorable tunes are, of course, something that Franz Ferdinand couldn’t be accused of lacking. When they stroll onto stage to an ecstatic reception, it’s hard to credit that their debut single was only released in September. They already possess the self-confidence of veterans twice their age yet when they crash into Cheating On You it’s clear that the sheer excitement of being pop stars hasn’t worn off yet.
Alex Kapranos has a grin the size of a Cheshire cat throughout as the crowd sing every lyric back at him, while Nick McCarthy just looks like he’s enjoying every minute of adulation. Only bass player Bob Hardy adopts a louche and uninterested pose, but then that’s usually the bassist’s job.
They have the audience in their pocket from the off, whether it be slipping the crowd pleasing line of “come dance with me Sheffield” into Michael or enjoying the crowd surfing during the highlight of 40 Foot. They’re even brave enough to play Take Me Out early on in the set, which of course causes paroxysms of excitement in the crowd. That moment where the song transforms into a monster of a funk-rock riff remains the most exciting musical moment of the year.
Every track from the superb debut album is aired, together with a few B-sides such as Shopping For Blood and Van Tango. The set comes to a climax with Darts Of Pleasure, which is probably the first time the entire Leadmill audience has chanted “my name is Superfantastic, I drink champagne and salmon” – in German of course. After a quick encore of an incendiary This Fire, they are off, doing absolutely nothing to dispel the notion that they’re set for even greater things.
Back in November, this reviewer happened to be sitting next to the Franz Ferdinand boys on a flight to New York, two months before Take Me Out fever broke. While flicking through the plane’s in-flight entertainment, Bob came across an Avril Lavigne concert and I overheard him commenting to Nick how strange it would be to play gigs on that kind of scale. Not long now, Bob, not long now.