Franz Ferdinand at Skyway Theatre, 10/9/13
Photo by Tony Nelson
With Frankie Rose
Skyway Theatre, Minneapolis
October 9, 2013
Of course Franz Ferdinand felt right at home in an old, revamped movie theatre. The ultra-charming Glaswegian quartet returned to Minneapolis for the first time in four years on Wednesday night, and got the packed Skyway Theatre dancing along to their infectious riffs throughout their lively 80-minute set. The group are touring in support of their new album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions, and those vibrant tracks fit perfectly alongside the swinging stomp of Franz's earlier work.
It was quite fitting that Franz opened with "The Dark of the Matinée," as a knowing, cheeky nod to the grimy old moviehouse. But the sterling single from the band's early days got the supportive, energetic crowd into it straight away, and after a dramatic breakdown in the middle, the track built steadily to a celebratory release at the end.
"Hey Minneapolis, you sound pretty good tonight," said frontman Alex Kapranos, and indeed the loud ovations that followed each song pleased the entire band all evening long. Franz not only have a stadium-sized sound but loads of charisma as well.
After the pulsing new song "Bullet" kept the strong start going, the band again dug into their back catalog for an animated run through of "Do You Want To." Franz kept the energy level high with a sassy "No You Girls," with Kapranos noticing the audience getting into it. "I see some movement and dancing in here tonight. I like it."
Photos By Tony Nelson
A funky "Evil Eye" had a disco-like rhythm to it, and clarified the menacing eyeball that graced drummer Paul Thomson's bass drum. The set design was classy and refined with "Thoughts," "Words," "Action" stylishly adorning their amps on stage, with a backdrop featuring four hands joined at the wrists in a sign of band unity.
"This next song is the only song that I've ever written in a dressing room," Kapranos explained before leading the band into a stirring rendition of "Walk Away," that elicited a deep bow from the frontman as the audience roared their approval. "Stand on the Horizon" meandered a bit and never found a spark, but that lull didn't last long as the band tore into "Can't Stop Feeling" that proved to be one of the standout moments of the show. The keys-laden track, supplied by guitarist Nick McCarthy, started out with an ominous, country twang before blossoming into a swelling, rhythmic beast which found Kapranos tearing up a guitar solo on the drum riser before goose-stepping in time to the beat.
He then gloriously transformed the song into Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," before the band closed it down with a rocking outro. As the crowd roared, Kapranos even acknowledged just how great that moment was, "See, you got me all excited up here. I've got to use my inhaler. It's the sign of a good night."
Photos By Tony Nelson
Sadly, the best moment of the show was quickly followed by a plodding dud of a new song, "Brief Encounters," but that slight misstep was quickly righted by "The Fallen," which was loose and feisty. Then Thomson delivered a pulsing, drum-laden intro to "This Fire," which really set the place off. It turned into a rousing crowd singalong, with Kapranos indulging in his evangelical, Jim Morrison-side as he preached menacingly to the crowd with the stage bathed in flame red lights.
"Yes, Minneapolis! Yes!" Kapranos exclaimed, clearly feeling the positive vibes from the audience. "The Twin Cities. I like you. This is for somebody who asked for it. I can't remember your name, but this one is for you." A riff-filled take on "Treason! Animals" satisfied the fan's request, before the club truly exploded during a jubilant version of "Take Me Out," which will always be a massive jam. "Love Illumination" contained a veiled homage to Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love," and flowed fluidly into the main set closer, "Ulysses," with Kapranos getting the crowd to wave their arms in the air as the song took off, before the band left the stage to a well-earned ovation.
Photo by Tony Nelson
The encore began with the entire band soaking in the warm ovation, clearly moved by the support shown to them, before Kapranos introduced the next number, "Right thoughts, right words, right action, right now." A churning, insistent take on "Right Action" ignited the encore, and lead into a dynamic version of "Michael" that had everyone bounding around in time to the track's blissful beats. The closing number was an affectionate way for the band to say goodbye, as the somber tones of "Goodbye Lovers & Friends" gracefully brought the night to an end. As the band gathered together for a lengthy group bow and shared hugs, the satisfied crowd was left hoping that they won't have to wait four more years to see Franz Ferdinand once again.
Personal Bias: From the moment that I first heard "Darts of Pleasure," I've been hooked by the charms of Ze Franz, and never miss one of their live shows.
The Crowd: A wide mix of younger music fans, longtime supporters of the band who have been with them from the start, and older fans who were there to groove.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I don't think they have changed the carpeting in here for over twenty years."
Photo by Tony Nelson
Random Notebook Dump: Brooklyn's Frankie Rose delivered an intoxicating, but all-too-brief half-hour opening set, featuring songs drawn mainly from her excellent new album, Herein Wild. While the guitars weren't turned up nearly loud enough throughout the set, Rose and her 3-piece backing band still managed to win over a crowd that was mostly unfamiliar with her work. After closing with a riveting, reverb-drenched take on "Save Me," which finished with a feedback-laden, JAMC-like squall, Rose told us she loved us and did say she'd be back soon.
Random Notebook Dump II: This was my first time at the Skyway Theatre since attending movies there back in my college days, and while they certainly haven't done much to update the '70s-styled surroundings of the place, the venue itself has great sightlines and a terrific soundsystem. But they clearly didn't do much to alter the sparse theatre other than removing the seats and building a stage, and the slant of the concrete floor can be hard on the back, knees, and feet as the show wears on.
The Dark of the Matinée
Do You Want To
No You Girls
Stand On The Horizon
Can't Stop Feeling
Take Me Out
Goodbye Lovers & Friends
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