Franz star sounds off at noise meanie after gig in Gardens

HE is the super-suave frontman of one of the biggest bands in Britain.

But even Franz Ferdinand pin-up Alex Kapranos couldn't help but lose his cool when confronted by Edinburgh's "noise meanies" during his band's recent sell-out concerts in the Capital.

The flamboyant star, whose group won the Mercury Music Prize, plus Brit and NME awards in the space of a year, has branded a city council official a "total jobsworth" for keeping the sound levels in check at the Princes Street Gardens extravaganza.

Producers of the gig were ordered to turn down the volume at the first of the two concerts by an environmental health officer standing next to the mixing desk in the Ross Theatre. Up to four city council officials are in attendance at major outdoor gigs in the city to keep control of noise levels and ensure complaints from local businesses and residents are kept to a minimum.

But the chart-topping band were far from happy when their sound engineer reported the clampdown to them after the first gig.

Kapranos, whose band were being followed backstage for a magazine feature, let rip afterwards, despite the huge acclaim his band were greeted with in Edinburgh.

He said: "You have that immense space to play and you have some tosser sitting there with his sound gauge being a total jobsworth."

Dave Corbet, of DF Concerts, the promoters of the open-air T on the Fringe shows, said: "This kind of thing is normal practice at outdoor concerts and there are all kinds of rules and regulations that you have to meet over sound levels and so on. The band's production manager didn't seem to be aware that this happens and told the band what had happened, but the fact is these rules are always in place at concerts like this.

"He was apparently warned once that there was a breach, but it was no big deal.

"The council officials are usually pretty good about it and it's not like it used to be, when they were a bit less subtle about this kind of thing."

A spokeswoman for the city council said monitoring of sound levels was always carried out, using special sound-level meters and radio equipment, next to the sound-mixing desk and in the immediate environment of the event arena, when outdoor concerts were staged in the city.

She said noise levels for each event are normally set during the sound-check stage with the sound engineer, and any changes are made at that time to avoid adjustments having to be made mid-concert. The spokeswoman added: "If sound levels are breached during performances, sound engineers are alerted to the status and instructed to moderate volume levels.

"Normally such advice is given in the form of a warning before any breach occurs.

"Failure to follow any direction from environmental health staff would be seen as a breach of licence, which could lead to possible court action.

"During pre-event discussions, agreements on noise requirements are essential and are included as a condition of the licence issued by the council.

"We have a duty to protect the amenity of local people and other businesses when licensing events. There has to be some control over noise levels or events like this would not be possible."

However, Edinburgh-based music industry expert Lenny Love said: "It sounds to me as if the council has been a bit over-the-top. The people in charge of the sound at concerts like this know exactly what they are doing and what kind of sound level is needed to fill the space.

"I think the council official has probably been there just to be seen to be there and has had a rather decorative role, but it does seem a bit unnecessary."

In the magazine article, published by The List, Kapranos added: "I don't think they managed to spoil things though. It still felt quite special."

Franz Ferdinand famously missed out on the chance to appear at Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations at the Ross Theatre, in 2003, when they were booked to appear at the flagship Concert in the Gardens as relative unknowns, but the gig - supporting Erasure - was cancelled at the eleventh hour due to bad weather.

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