Live Review: Franz Ferdinand & Albert Hammond Jr - Albert Hall, Manchester 13/02/2018
Franz Ferdinand are back and oh my have they still got it! We caught the Glaswegian boys on tour in support of their new album Always Ascending, playing a sold-out show at Albert Hall, Manchester.
Franz Ferdinand were opened by Albert Hammond Jr, also known as the guitarist from The Strokes, if you didn’t know! It was soon obvious that he had brought his front man attitude along with him as he took to the stage wearing a silver pin stripe suit and demonstrated a huge level of confidence throughout the forty-minute set. His set included album tracks from his 2006 debut Yours to Keep, second album ¿Como Te Llama? and his latest release Momentary Masters, AHJ also showcased some new songs.
Franz Ferdinand took to the stage with excitement, the now five-piece, greeted the crowd and went straight into it. Looking as though they may have shared a bottle of home hair bleach, singer Alex Kapranos and drummer Paul Thomson showed off their new hairdos. Whilst losing guitarist Nick McCarthy and gaining two new members, together they show a new level of admirable confidence. Latest single ‘Lazy Boy’ was played right in-between classic singles ‘Do You Want To’ and ‘No You Girls’, and it was spot on!
As the set went on, alternating between all five albums, the mix of iconic songs from their back catalogue and new songs from Always Ascending formed an amazing atmosphere amongst the audience. The mixture of old and new merged perfectly, creating a set list of dreams for any Franz fans.
Playing a debut performance of ‘Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow’ before much loved singles ‘Michael’ and ‘The Fallen’, the crowd already knew they were in for a treat. During ‘Take Me Out’, the bands second single and probably still their most iconic song, the crowd finally started to let loose. Suddenly everyone was bouncing up and down in time with the band, who had all come forward whilst playing their guitars to form a line of pogoing on stage. Everyone in the venue was loving it, presumably their last song, they played the lead album track ‘Always Ascending’ before heading off stage for an encore.
The four-song encore saw singer Alex Kapranos owning the stage with his new Andy Warhol vibes, jumping, twirling and dancing around. Playing new songs ‘Glimpse of Love’ and ‘Feel the Love Go’ then going straight into ‘Ulysses’, everyone thought it was over, but there was still time for fan favourite ‘This Fire’. The song was extended with a huge outro where Alex said, “Let’s take it down, down to the ground” after getting the whole crowd to crouch down on the floor, the entire room was left wanting more. Even with talking in-between songs, extending outros and introducing the band they still managed to play an epic 18-song set list. Throughout the whole set you could tell how much Franz Ferdinand were loving it and it was so inspiring to see.
Franz Ferdinand were the first band I ever went to see live. They played Hull Ice Arena on a cold November evening in 2005, I was 11 years old and had school the next day. 13 years and 5 albums later, tonight they proved they are moving with current trends in music. This tour, in support of their latest album, Always Ascending, is seeing the band play significantly smaller venues than any tour in recent years. They are always a band considered big enough to be playing arenas, perhaps they are past that now, but they certainly aren’t past it as a band. Being a band whose style hasn’t particularly changed much throughout their fifteen years of being together, apart from their super group FFS with American band Sparks (which can only be described as a midlife crisis) it’s so exciting to have them back playing their own songs. Regardless, they absolutely owned Albert Hall and boy did the crowd love it!
Words and Photography by Abbie Jennings