Franz Ferdinand
Live @ Bristol University
May 2, 2004
Review & Photography: Steve Bateman

With a Top 3 hit under their belts in Take Me Out (touted as 'The best single by a British guitar band in years'), and a platinum debut LP, the bohemian / art-obsessed Glaswegian quartet, have already had a major impact on the music world.

Franz Ferdinand are Alex Kapranos (vocals / guitar), Nick McCarthy (guitar / keyboards), Bob Hardy (bass) and Paul Thomson (drums).

Discussing the motive behind forming the band, Alex explained: "We want to reclaim pop music - the word pop has become a really dirty word - it suggests horrible manufactured rubbish that dominates the charts. The best pop music comes from the outside and it's subversive to a degree. You had Pulp in the last decade, The Buzzcocks the decade before that, and The Sex pistols and The Clash - bands that weren't afraid to play pop music in their own way and on their own terms."

Franz Ferdinand are indeed connoisseurs of great British music, and their infectious songs unashamedly reference the past - be it punk-rock, '80s synth-pop or Britpop. They also have a very distinctive image - asymmetrical haircuts, sharp short sleeve shirts and fashionable footwear.

As the band walk on stage, they are welcomed with rapturous applause. The venue is packed, and when Alex steps up to the microphone, he takes a moment to look out into the crowd, before a huge smile overtakes him.

Opting to open the set with 4 album tracks, is a testament to the strength of the band's eponymous record. During Cheating On You, Tell Her Tonight, 40' and Auf Achse, both Alex and Nick are very animated, whereas Bob is determined to perfect his bass poses - often staring straight through the photographers lenses.

Before current single Matinee, Kapranos (in reference to the video) announces "It's nice to be back in Bristol - the last time we were here, we were dressed in School uniforms" which results in some comedy wolf-whistling from the fans.

Seeing Franz Ferdinand live, you appreciate even more, how each of their influences has been cleverly combined into something with substance and style. The time-signature changes, the mid-song tempo drops, the great riffs / bass lines, and the lyrics (which range from sophisticated to ambiguous / witty to quirky), sound polished and assured.

Jacqueline has to be one of my favourites tonight. Opening with a spoken verse, the bass then kicks in, before the rhythm guitars start - and everyone sings along to the chorus "It's always better on holiday, so much better on holiday, that's why we only work, when we need the money." Take Me Out is another highlight, especially when Alex points at the crowd signalling when we should sing "Take Me Out."

Many of the band's songs contain elements of disco, and this is perhaps why Alex asks "Lets see if you can all dance?" before Come On Home. Michael and Darts Of Pleasure take us into the band member intros, before an encore featuring a drum and bass solo, Shopping For Blood and an assertive This Fire - which sees the band congregating on Paul's drum stand.

Before the lights go out, they wave goodbye and are enthusiastically cheered for their efforts.

In attempting to create another golden age of guitar-based pop / rock, the band could be likened to a band of brothers. They are on a mission and are without question, loving every second - as evidenced by tonight's blistering performance.

With the hype now settling, Franz Ferdinand are proving that they are more, than just "The Latest Contenders."

A very special thanks to Steve @ Coalition, for all of his help, and to Franz Ferdinand + their management / security.