Back in 2004, whether you caught it in a commercial, on the radio or in your earbuds, the long iconic guitar strum and the opening lyrics's cry of "So if you’re lonely … ," Franz Ferdinand’s "Take Me Out" was everywhere.
With its catchy guitar chords and easy to sing-along lyrics, the song made Franz Ferdinand famous. But over a decade later, you might have wondered what happened to them. The band released a few albums of still high quality but lesser fame rock hits, then joined forces with Sparks in 2015 to create a supergroup called FFS, with little idea of where the original crew was headed next.
Would that mark the end of Franz Ferdinand? But then, in late 2017, they finally announced a new band lineup, a new single, new album and some tour dates – and lucky for those in Milwaukee, The Rave was one of the stops, the group's first time taking its stage since 2009.
And the band made quite a comeback.
You could barely hear the band's opening statements upon taking the stage – a set featuring Franz Ferdinand spelled out in big colorful letters, surrounded by shooting stars – because the crowd was screaming so much out of pure joy. Right from the first beat of "Always Ascending," the title track of their latest album, the band was ready to groove. Most of their set embodied the ‘80s: bright colored lights, a smoky stage lighting only the profile of some of their faces, mullets and more.
Lead singer Alex Kapranos personified David Bowie with his flamboyance, his spiky blonde hair and his androgynous aura, combined with the confidence of Billy Mack from "Love Actually," entertaining and conversing the whole night, stealing the entire show from the moment the music began. The audience's eyes were glued to the stage – refreshingly without a sea of cell phones in sight – just people genuinely enjoying and feeling entranced by Kapranos’ vocals and moves. He slid, glides and twirled around the stage so smoothly and made all his gestures so theatrical that you could just tell he was a natural born performer. Your eyes followed him wherever he went and you couldn’t help but be blown away. They may have been on The Rave's smaller stage, but he performed like he was in a sold out show at The Eagles Ballroom.
Whether he was singing or just talking to the audience, everything he said or did was very poetic and conversational. As he sang, he locked eyes with different audience members and did different gestures like eyebrow raises and pointing, charming the audience to think he was talking to them. Between songs, he would introduce the next song with questions to the audience or with very poetic words that just showed he was always "on."
Throughout the show, Kapranos casually and conversationally interacted with the audience, keeping them drawn in. He threw out the mic to the crowd during "Do You Want To"and had the fans getting low, jumping, waving their arms, clapping and keeping our energy up the whole show. From simple eyebrow raises and points to directing the crowd to sing different lyrics and applauding them as they tried, he charmed the audience.
The other band members were just as talented. Guitarist Dino Bardot shredded through every song with his killer guitar cords. He and the others made it look easy, and you could tell it was just second nature to them. New keyboardist Julian Corrie shocked everyone as he took breaks from the keys and busted out his guitar for the second song, "The Dark of the Matinee." No matter the instrument, however, he was just oozing talent. However, the best part was you could tell they just love playing their music. You can see them feel the music with every bone in their body, filled with passion. When they were rocking out a song, you would catch glimpses of them smiling at each other and cheering each other on.
Near the end of the night, the band sang its signature, breakout hit "Take Me Out," taking the crowd to complete other level. The whole band was jumping around the stage, and the audience bopped its collective heads like bobbleheads, screaming every lyric. Somehow they managed to keep the energy up after this massive hit all the way through the final two songs, "Huck and Jim" and "Ulysses"
The audience wasn't done, however, exploding into applause and refusing to die down until Franz Ferdinand made it back on the stage. Of course they did, closing the show with a four-song encore including "Feel the Love Go" and "This Fire." Kapranos introduced the band and tried to get some last minute moves out of the audience, going just a little too long and getting to be a little too much during the encore. However, his performance was just so surprising and overwhelming that you couldn’t hold this final ego boost against him. After they finished the last note, the band gathered to the front, grabbed each other’s hands and sweetly took their bow as the audience roared with their approval.
Franz Ferdinand returning with new music and a new tour was just what we needed in 2018 – though they'll be welcome back here any time soon too.
"The Dark of The Matinee"
"Glimpse of Love"
"No You Girls"
"Do You Want To"
"Come on Home"
"Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow"
"Take Me Out"
"Huck and Jim"
"Feel the Love Go"