Monday, 9 March 2009

Franz Ferdinand @ Birmingham Academy, 8/03/09

I think it is safe to say queueing from 10am for this was worth it. I didn't do it, my friend Nita did, but I joined her at 12 and we had a riot of a time. Okay, it was freezing, but her excitement was contagious. See, she'd been waiting 5 years (though intense prolonged obsession) for this - they've only played once near us in 4 years, and she couldn't go to that, so today really mattered, and didn't she know it!

Everything went right. We met their manager Parker and got to hold Alex Kapranos' guitar case, and at about five, Franz arrived in a little silver van and Nita followed them right into the ''No Entry" depot and spoke to Alex. We all got pictures, and she was surprisingly composed.

We went inside at 7. We managed to get to the front, centre, which was excellent, but there was a full hour wait until the support act The Soft Pack came on. I've never seen a band only have one support at the Academy, but it was so, and they were very good. They were all talented players, but the sound had been set up wrong and you couldn't hear the vocals (and the lead guitar was deafening). They also lacked stage presence, though I've seen much worse in that respect, and generally I was impressed and will be finding out more: talent, catchy tunes, great guitar sound. It was another half hour or more before Franz came on, but I liked that there wasn't a second support - there was no faffing, no aching feet and no prolonged waiting after waiting all day.

Franz Ferdinand were amazing. They put on one of the best shows I've ever seen, with official videos, other videos, even videos of the stage from weird angles coming up on a screen at the back, and a light show to die for. There were some real 'wow' moments, like in Outsiders during the encore, where all of the band members and a roadie gathered round the drumkit and played a drum penta-solo. They had the balance just right sound-wise, and they seemed very pleased to be playing, Alex smiling away and making eye contact with the lucky (oh so lucky) front row. I was glad it sounded very guitar-based live as well, much more so than the album.

From what I can remember, they had all the expected in the setlist, including Michael, which they opened with, No You Girls, Bite Hard, Take Me Out, Twilight Omens, Matinée, Do You Want To, The Fallen, 40' (which I was very happy they played - I sank into bliss when I heard that intro), Turn It On, Walk Away, Lucid Dreams, The Fallen, What She Came For and Ulysses, though not necessarily in that order. In the encore they played Jacqueline, Outsiders and This Fire (though I seem to remember there were, I don't know, my brain was more occupied with having a great time than recording the setlist.) The only fault I could possibly find would be length of setlist, even though it was decent - who wouldn't want a great band to play a few more songs?

After the gig, they had to rush off to London, so they were out in 5 minutes carrying all their bags. Nita got the setlist (that I'd caught and kept for her) signed, and a poster signed, and another gazillion photos of Alex's back. Nick had seen her there on the front row, and he told her she was amazing and kissed her on the cheek. They made her life.

There was an unusual bit of merchandising too - a CD of that night, pressed straight to disc, which you could buy for £15 to have a copy for yourself. I think you can also obtain a copy of the recorded gig here, for a slightly higher price, but it's a decent idea anyway. Exellent gig, it should sound fabulous on recording.

9/10 I think, for Franz, 11/10 for the whole experience!

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