Saturday, July 13, 2024

Franz Ferdinand + Eagulls, O2 Academy, Birmingham 21/03/14

Franz Ferdinand
Ten years ago last month, Franz Ferdinand released their debut, self-titled LP and dancefloors up and down the country were full of those indie anthems that everyone now seems to know. Fast forward ten years and one of Glasgow’s finest exports may not exactly be as relevant as they were ten years ago, but they still know how to put on a show.

It was the task of Leeds-based punk quintet Eagulls to open the night. During a 30 minute-plus set, lead vocalist George Mitchell wanders around the stage with a kind of Ian Curtis-esque stance while the band thrash out their riff-laden instrumentals in the background, but it’s a shame the venue isn’t busier as, despite impressing, it feels as though the band’s performance is reflective of the audience; sparse. The lack of crowd interaction may well be down to the early doors but you can’t help but think if the 3,000 capacity venue was full it’d be rocking.

Franz Ferdinand
Just after 8pm and five years since their last Birmingham show, Franz Ferdinand arrive with ‘Bullet’, the opening track from latest album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. But in a, shall we say, matured crowd (no offence to anyone reading this…) it’s the early 00s tracks that people are here for such as ‘The Dark of the Matinée’, which followed ‘Bullet’. Cue crowd surge.
It’s a testament to Franz, though, as it’s those ten-year old tracks such as ‘Tell Her Tonight’ and ‘Auf Achse’ from their debut record which still sound fresh live.

Franz Ferdinand
‘Do You Want To”s early inclusion in the set, five songs in to be precise, resulted in just about everyone inside the O2 Academy bellowing “do do, do do do do do do” – similar to the reaction the opening chords of ‘Can’t Stop Feeling’ from 2009’s Tonight received.
“You’re a bouncey lot tonight, aren’t you?” exclaims lead guitarist & vocalist Alex Kapranos. Cue screams. It’s shortly after this point that both the band and crowd step up their game with the inclusion of ‘The Fallen’, ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Love Illumination’ in a row to a sea of crowdsurfers and an ever-expanding mosh pit.

Franz Ferdinand
Despite Franz’s earlier material hitting the right chord with fans, a rather large pocket of fans down the front still screamed along to the likes of newer tracks ‘Fresh Strawberries’ and ‘Evil Eye’, showing just how relevant the band still are to many.
With crowdsurfing figures well in to the higher echelons and security getting fed up of telling off, there was just enough time for ‘Michael’ and main-set closer ‘Ulysses’ before the band disappeared for a few short moments. “We want more!” is the cry from the Brummies who, of course, get what they want and are treated to a four-song encore which kicks off with FF’s 2013 comeback track, ‘Right Action’.
An extended ‘This Fire’ gave Birmingham one last chance to dance and saw the majority of the dancefloor erupt for the penultimate song and best of the evening just before ‘Goodbye Lovers and Friends’, which allowed Kapranos to take centre stage and say his own farewell to Birmingham after a 23-strong set. And so left their adoring fans; adorned in Franz Ferdinand tees and wooly hats.

Franz Ferdinand
Regardless of however relevant Franz Ferdinand are in 2014, tonight they claimed their stake as one of Britain’s finest indie bands. And if you ask me, they’ve stood the test of time pretty fucking well. Just don’t leave it so long next time, eh?
Photographs by Jonathan Morgan.
The Dark of the Matinée
Tell Her Tonight
Evil Eye
Do You Want To
No You Girls
Fresh Strawberries
Walk Away
Stand on the Horizon
Can’t Stop Feeling
Auf Achse
Brief Encounters
The Fallen
Take Me Out
Love Illumination
Darts of Pleasure
Lucid Dreams
Right Action
Treason! Animals.
This Fire
Goodbye Lovers & Friends

Richard Franks

Founding editor of Counteract. Freelance travel and music journalist.