The Glasgow-based quartet is a very good, if relatively shallow, band.
The members of Franz Ferdinand would like you to believe they are, as their introduction put it, “the most evil band in Scotland,” but nothing in their 90-minute performance came close to backing up that claim, unless you believe romantic ennui and post-collegiate, world-weary existentialism are tools of the devil. The Glasgow-based quartet could more accurately be described as a very good, if relatively shallow, band.
They’re best at drawing a line between the serrated, jittery guitars of Gang of Four and New Order with the propulsive, lock-step rhythms of contemporary dance music. Paul Thompson’s drumming packs an energetic wallop, abetted by Bob Hardy’s melodic, high-on-the-neck basslines, while guitarist Nick McCarthy sprays caustic riffs. It’s a sleekly stylish mix that keeps the dance floor moving, but frontman Alex Kapranos’ lack of charisma is a sticking point.
Alternating between Bowie-esque, polymorphous sybarite and heavy-lidded languor a la Bryan Ferry, Kapranos poses more than probes. The affectations serve him well when the material is strong — such as “Ulysses” and “No You Girls” from the band’s ambitious third album “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” (Domino), or the headstrong clatter of “The Fallen” — but all of his stage craft can’t elevate lesser songs like the sodden, second-rate Doors psychedelia of “40 Feet.”
Too many numbers feel undercooked — amounting to little more than instrumental hooks (the wonderfully greasy keyboard figure that kicks off “What She Came For” or the lascivious chorus of “Turn It On”) attached to standard-issue, post-punk verses.
These bandmates are musical pickup artists — great with an opening line, less impressive on the follow-through.