2017 marks the first time Franz Ferdinand has been in the US in three years. Since that time they released their fourth album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, a collaboration with Sparks, titled FFS, and a single called “Demagogue.” Perhaps that’s why this tour sees Franz hitting large festivals like Hangout Music Fest and Governors Ball. Hitting Connecticut’s mid-size venue, College Street Music Hall may have been a bit of a change of pace for the Glasgow band but they hardly noticed.
Lead singer/guitarist Alex Kapranos hit the stage as if it were Wembley Stadium. Beginning with “Jacqueline,” the opening track from their much loved first album, Kapranos assaulted the crowd with a myriad of rock star moves like the jump kick and the mid-air split. The song transitioned seamlessly into their hit single “No You Girls.”
The crowd was a mixture of die hard fans and people who seemed to have only heard of the band before. “No You Girls” got a big hand but lesser known songs like “Stand on the Horizon” or “Outsiders” got a much more muted response. Similarly, the band has been using this US tour to blood new songs. The first was “Paper Cages” which did fairly well sandwiched between “No You Girls” and “Dark Matinee.” The track is perhaps the closest Franz Ferdinand has ever sounded to the Rolling Stones. It has a blues-y classic rock feel with an anthemic “step out of our cages” chorus.
“Lazy Boy” has some 80s darkwave synths and a lot less guitar than other Ferdinand songs. The chorus was catchy but the crowd did not seem as into it. Similarly, “Huck & Jim” had a “way-oh-way-oh-way-oh” group sing chorus but its complicated structure made it hard to “love” on first listen. The band smartly positioned it just before the set closing one-two punch of “Take Me Out” and “Ulysses” so the crowd’s muted reaction was not long.
The most interesting placement for a new song was “Always Ascending,” which in the encore. The band did a four song encore so “Always Ascending” was not all alone out there but as a song it is fairly singular. Starting with just Kapranos singing over effervescent synths, it bogged the encore down to a near stop. Many patrons moved for the exits before the band got to the real crux of the song. The song picks up into a more suitable Franz Ferdinand rock/disco hybrid but the damage was already done. The venue was probably at half capacity when the band finished with the manic “This Fire.”