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.