Franz Ferdinand, Hydro, Glasgow ****
Franz Ferdinand marked 20 years of pop strutting this year with the release of compilation album Hits to the Head. But these (relatively) old hands are still racking up fresh experiences, not least playing their home city's largest indoor venue for the first time – quite the introduction for new drummer Audrey Tait.
Being routine festival slayers, the Glasgow quintet have long commandeered large stages and frontman Alex Kapranos was ready for his big screen close-up in spangly jacket, ever poised for a pointy pose. The usual visual flair was in play, scaled up slightly with personalised amps for each member, a set of guitar risers and a modest walkway used with alacrity by Kapranos, who played the crowd like a pro during the teasing intro of Do You Want To. Yet this vast space was not a natural home for their taut tunes and sharp lyrics – Franz have swagger and character to spare but not the pomp nor the scale to consistently hit the back wall.
Still, the setlist was stuffed with infectious gems, including breakthrough anthem Take Me Out, replete with a four guitar frontline, plus early favourites Dark of the Matinee and Darts of Pleasure, a sure sign back in 2002 that the audacious pop blueprint was already in place. Jacqueline, a song they played at their first gig, was dedicated to its inspiration (who couldn't attend the show because of work commitments). The subject of Michael was in the room, no doubt proud that the song he inspired required full use of the guitar risers.
In another nod to their roots, original drummer Paul Thomson joined the traditional massed percussive blowout of Outsiders, along with the members of support acts Los Bitchos and Medicine Cabinet, before the fab five unleashed the testifying power of This Fire, with Kapranos launching himself into his flock to mark the occasion.