Franz Ferdinand @ Shibuya AX (29th Nov. '04)
"It's In Their Hands Now"
For the last four years the world of commercial rock has been trying to find a group to anchor itself behind. Stakes are high as labels scramble to find an artist to bill not only as the decade's best, but also as someone to help lead the music world in the new century. The majors thought they were on to something a few years ago with the popularity of the first wave of "The" bands and the moderate success of the second-rate knock-offs that quickly followed them. However, this was not meant to last. By the time the top names being pushed released sophomore records the public realized that The Strokes were boring and overrated, while artists like The Hives and The Vines just weren't that great to begin with. The White Stripes are talented, but their deep love of country, blues, and psychedelic sounds are just a little too out there for the mass majority to swallow. Which put the labels right back to where they started.
Enter Domino Records and four scrawny, arty guys from Glasgow who called themselves Franz Ferdinand. Formed with the dream of making music that girls could dance to, the band released a 2003 EP, Darts of Pleasure, which helped them achieve this goal. They also began to attract their fair share of British press, which helped build a steady buzz by the time their self-titled, full length hit stores in early 2004. As critics around the globe swooned, a slew of sold-out gigs and high charting CD sales caught the interest of commercial rock radio and the majors. Franz Ferdinand signed a rumoured million dollar distribution deal with Epic Records in late spring, and continued to make listeners groove with their witty brand of funky post-rock.
Seeing as how the group's only previous Japanese touring came as a one-off show at this summer's Fuji Rock Festival, Tokyo hipsters old and young were psyched for the band's appearance at Shibuya AX. As the light's dimmed and shadows were cast through the white curtain that covered the stage (which bore a giant picture of the man who assassinated Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Gavrilo Princip), a huge applause erupted from the audience. As they began to play the opening notes of "Michael", the curtain dropped to reveal guitarists Nick McCarthy and Alex Kapranos and bassist Bob Hardy bunched together in what would be the first of many tongue-in-cheek rock poses.
Taking their cues from the fancy foot-work being showcased by Kapranos and McCarty, everyone gleefully boogied along as the band made their way into "Come on Home".
The introduction of "Take Me Out" was met with a roar of approval. Arguably one of the best singles of the year, the disgustingly catchy track sent the capacity crowd into hysterics. The mass sing-along and giant dance party that ensued showed just how powerful a well-crafted pop song can be. Hell let's face it; no matter what style of music you love everyone is a sucker for a solid pop number. This is great for Franz Ferdinand as they possess a plethora of fun, intelligent material. Watching the guys play the bulk of their album, it's clearly evident that "Take Me Out" isn't a fluke. Every one of the songs performed tonight could easily be a huge radio single.
Judging by the new track "Well, That Was Easy", the band's sophomore effort is going to pack as much punch as their self-titled effort. Kapranos vocals rose above the ass-shaking rhythms and interesting time changes provided by his talented band mates. Finishing the song without any problems, Kapranos coyly remarked "Well, that was easy."
Turning in an extremely tight 70 minute performance, the band seemed to be in great spirits considering Hardy had missed the previous night's concert in Nagoya due to a severe case of gastroenteritis. To show that they were having as much fun on stage as the crowd was below, Kapranos slightly changed the lyrics to "I'm Your Villain". Instead of singing "See you later, baby see you later", he crooned the line "Sayonara baby, sayonara" several times much to the delight of attendees.
After bringing out a second drummer, Todd from opening act The Beat Up, to add an extra bit of oomph to the already powerful "Shopping for Blood", the group ended the night with "This Fire". Covered in red light, Kapranos and McCarthy spun around from end to end, taking turns playing to the people at either side of the stage. As the crowd pumped their fists in unison, Kapranos howled the line "This fire is out of control". Like the abovementioned fire, Franz Ferdinand's growing popularity is spreading rapidly. Having already shown that they can sell out and conquer large scale clubs and mid-size theatres, in theory the only place for the band to go is up. Essentially though, it's all in their hands now. They've definitely got music fans, critics, and industry folks behind them. If they can continue to exploit their knack for creating mind-boggling good rock music than there's a chance the world of commercial rock will have finally found the band it's been desperately seeking.
-- set list --
Come on Home /
Tell Her Tonight /
Take Me Out /
Well, That Was Easy /
The Dark of the Matinee /
I'm Your Villain /
Van Tango /
Auf Acshe /
Darts of Pleasure /
-- encore --
Shopping for Blood /
Cheating on You /
report by shawn and photo by izumikuma
mag files :
It's In Their Hands Now : (04/10/29 @ Shibuya AX) : review by shawn, photo by izumikuma
photo report : (04/10/29 @ Shibuya AX) : photo by izumikuma
illustration : (04/11/28 @ Nagoya Diamond Hall) : illustration by chika
乗せ上手に乗せられ上手 : (04/11/28 @ Osaka Mother Hall) : review by kuniko, photo by izumikuma
完全無欠のエンターテイメント・ショー : (04/11/25 @ Yokohama Blitz) : review by yoshi_k, photo by keco
とにかく速報だ! : (04/11/24 @ Ebisu Liquid Room) : review by nob, photo by keco
photo report : (04/11/24 @ Ebisu Liquid Room) : photo by keco
フランツ・フェルディナンド大公に捧ぐ3枚 : (04/11/21) : column by nob
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