Franz Ferdinand are back. They have a new record and they have their dancing shoes on. Saturday night was their opportunity to show the partying folk of Robin Hill Country Park exactly what this is all about.
Would they offer any relevance or connection to the Bestival crowd? A four year absence is a long time in music and there is a nagging sense of lost time and lost ground. Lady luck is not initially very kind to them. As they prod the angular strains of second song, ‘The Dark of the Matinee’, the heavens open with a fierce fury and drench everyone present. ‘I’m sure this will pass’, reassures Alex Kapranos unconvincingly before launching into an aggressive take on ‘Do You Want To?’.It’s a performancethat is so feral that they appear to succeed in their will to banish the rain clouds.
Drying off and basking in a strange juxtaposition between the cool night temperatures and a sizzling onstage noise, the audience welcome the bulk of the set with modest ripples of applause. This Scottish collectivedeserve more than that. The question beckons though as to whether Franz Ferdinand can truly translate back on the big stage. Theirs is not a widescreen sound. Although moments astound and dazzle, you cannot help but think how much better this would be in a small venue. To their credit, they fizz with a restless energy that shuffles from chord to chord, and they at the very least strike an interesting proposition for this predominately young crowd.
Photo by Dan Dennison
Apart from a relatively direct ‘Walking Away’, the set is marked bydeep grooves that are frequentlynaughty, dirty and positively lascivious. There is so much indie-funk emitting from this foursome that you imagine Nile Rodgers could be at the side of the stage taking notes.
The new material holds up well. Almost inevitably, it is the instantly recognisable strum of ‘Take Me Out’ that engenders the most widespread reaction, although ‘This Fire’, complete with a stretched out middle section -injecting the sort of drama that suggests Elvis in Vegas – also runs it very close.
They draw a line under matters with the borderline scat of ‘Ulysses’, which shudders and shakes the main stage before their abrupt departure. It’s good to have them back in the fold. They reminded us that the world is duller place without Franz Ferdinand.
By Greg Wetherall