NEW YORK — Franz Ferdinand are hot — in just about every sense of the word. Not only are they the hot buzz-band of the moment, not only is their debut album beginning to heat up the charts, not only are they boy-band cute; they were completely drenched in sweat for this jam-packed show on an incredibly humid evening.
The Webster Hall crowd was teeming with feverish anticipation for these Glaswegian post-punkers. Hipsters were dressed in full regalia, the female contingent was out in force and celebrity sightings included Coldplay's Chris Martin, Kate Moss (who reportedly pitched a fit when she was denied backstage access), Julian Lennon, the Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr., actress Natasha Lyonne and Johnny Knoxville.
Decked out in tight-fitting, stylish shirts (stripes and dots), coiffed hair, sharp slacks and dress shoes, you'd think the Franz boys were off to a GQ photo shoot instead of Webster Hall's stage. The band's songs often deal with the darker side of relationships, so it was appropriate that the 45-minute set started off with "Cheating on You." Drummer Paul Thomson rode the song's disco-ish, hi-hat-driven beat like his life depended on it as the crowd danced along furiously.
Although bassist Bob Hardy was virtually motionless (glaring at the crowd with an eerie, serial-killer-like stare), singer/guitarist Alex Kapranos and guitarist Nick McCarthy held the crowd's attention with ease, shaking their hips and apparently enjoying themselves as much as the fans.
Part of the band's appeal is that it manages to incorporate a wide variety of '70s and '80s influences without ever sounding like anyone else. Prickly, asymmetrical guitar lines ("Tell Her Tonight") brought to mind the British post-punk era of Josef K and the Fall; "Jacqueline" began like a suave Serge Gainsbourg lullaby before erupting into a nervy and bouncy collision of spiky guitars and vigorous drums; and the new-wave keyboards of "Come on Home" evoke visions of Roxy Music and Let's Dance-era David Bowie (see "Franz Ferdinand Get The Jaded Hipsters To Shake It").
Yet most striking is the incredible confidence the band displays onstage. Self-assured, poised and cool, the skinny boys had the swagger of Mick Jagger in his prime (they also seemed to bite his style a little).
The lid came off when Franz tore into their hit single, "Take Me Out," causing the audience to erupt into a pogo stomp that you could feel through the floor. The band left the stage after delivering the jagged punch of "Darts of Pleasure," with Kapranos and McCarthy falling to a heap on the floor after posing back-to-back a là Slash and Izzy.
Fittingly, the gang of four ended their encore with a raucous version of "This Fire," the song's chorus providing a perfect metaphor for the show: "This fire is outta control/ We're gonna burn this city, burn this city!"
- "Cheating on You"
- "Come on Home"
- "Auf Achse"
- "Tell Her Tonight"
- "40 Feet"
- "Take Me Out"
- "Love and Destroy"
- "The Dark of the Matinée"
- "Van Tango"
- "Darts of Pleasure"
- "Shopping for Blood"
- "This Fire"