Meet the new Franz, not quite the same as the old Franz, but greeted like long-lost friends as they presented their new line-up at their first big homecoming show since their glorious collaboration with Sparks as FFS.
Franz Ferdinand, O2 Academy, Glasgow ****
Since then, guitarist and founder member Nick McCarthy has left, leaving a potential charisma vacuum on the left hand side of the stage.
This has been plugged by new boys Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie, taking care of sonic business on deliciously melodic lead guitar and keyboards, guitar and poised backing vocals respectively, leaving frontman Alex Kapranos free to indulge his vaudevillian tendencies, scissor kicking, striking poses, carving extravagant shapes in the air and working the crowd in knowing but affectionate style.
They brought a little taste of Barrowland to the Academy with their backdrop inspired by the venue’s iconic neon sign. Its blast of retro-lettered colour is a good metaphor for Franz Ferdinand – bright, bold, instantly recognisable and reassuringly familiar. But every Franz show is a Saturday night at Barrowland affair anyway.
They opened with the first of a tangy taster selection from new album, Always Ascending. Paper Cages was fitted with melodic hooks galore, a characterful vocal dialogue between Kapranos and Corrie and vibrant guitar and keyboard parts.
But they really took proceedings by the scruff of the neck with Do You Want To? “Well here we are at the Glasgow party,” declared Kapranos as the audience responded to its eminently chantable hookline and the teasing breakdowns which make Franz the surefire live entertainers that they are.
Such energy and momentum was easily maintained over the next 90 minutes (or at least this supertight band made it look easy).
The less familiar new songs such as Lazy Boy were already bedded in to the performance as firmly as the new members.
Bardot excelled with the romantic guitar twang of Walk Away, while Corrie came forward to take his place in the four guitar frontline for the swaggering celebration of Take Me Out. But watch out, there was a new anthem in town.
Huck and Jim, with its tempo changes and irresistible chorus “we’re going to America, we’re going to tell them about the NHS”, packed enough audacity to end the main set, while the appropriately titled Always Ascending made a compelling glitterball encore alongside the taut frenzy of Love Illumination and This Fire.