By the time sharp-dressed Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand took the stage not long after 7:30 p.m. local time (an hour and 15 minutes after their initial set time), the minimally muddy crowd was ready for the show to go on. Nearly three years since Franz last toured America, it was only fitting for the group to take the stage in keeping with the evening’s theme of reuniting. There may not have been any video behind them, nor were there any screens flanking either side of the stage displaying the performance until the middle of the set, but it was of no matter: The show was just as rewarding to hear as it was to see.
After opening with “Dark of the Matinee,” from their debut, eponymous album, lead singer Alex Kapranos addressed the audience. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you all right now. You’re looking f—ing good!” he declared, before they pleased the crowd with “No You Girls” and a crescendo- and drum-heavy “Walk Away.”
But it was new material that got the ever-dancing and fist-pumping crowd especially excited. Two new tracks made their Stateside debut, perhaps giving fans an inkling of what’s to come from the latest album they’re quietly working on. First up came “Right Thoughts,” a classic Franz Ferdinand-sounding track that featured big guitar, thumping, dance-y drums and the infectious refrain of “Right thoughts/ Right words/ Right actions.”
The drum-driven, Tonight-era-reminiscent “Scarlet and Blue” came later in the set and will certainly be a live favorite upon wide release, and it whipped the crowd (most of whom were already keen to hear a beat build) into a frenzy as the bridge — a repeated chant of the word “nobody” — rose and eventually cascaded to the song’s end.
The crowd was also especially excited to hear songs familiar outside the Franz catalog. During the raucous “Can’t Stop Feeling,” Kapranos and company seamlessly went into a faithful version of the late Donna Summer ‘s “I Feel Love.” Ever the showmen, the second-to-last song of the night featured a live favorite, in which all four members of the band played a well-choreographed and composed drum solo during the bridge of “Outsiders.” With the exception of a (helplessly?) crowd-surfing 13-year-old, the audience remained captivated on the kit.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen rain quite like that. Chicago, you’ve surpassed yourself,” Kapranos claimed during the show. After such a return, perhaps the same could be said about the band.
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