All entries for Tuesday 30 June 2009

June 30, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Franz Ferdinand, Manchester Academy 1, 6th March

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

Does music have to be deep? Does it have to move your soul, touch the feelings we all have? Does it have to matter? It’s a strange question, but a relevant one when talking about Franz Ferdinand, the indie band who manage to make pure pop music.

It feels somewhat unfair to describe Franz Ferdinand as music entirely for the feet, which bypasses the heart totally and the head mostly. For this is exactly what they do, and yet it feels almost rude to talk about their effortless, soulless brilliant music in such terms. Is the world of the music lover so saturated with worries about integrity and ‘reality’ in music that it’s hard to recognise simple brilliance?

For many indie fans the way around it is to like pop groups, like Girls Aloud or Sugababes, which represent something different to their beloved main genre of skinny boys (and occasional girls) wearing tight jeans and artfully crap hair. These pop bands are manufactured by record labels or via TV shows, which places them apart from the supposedly organic bands which sell mere fractions of their sales but who are seen to ‘mean it’. In this clear differentiation the indie snob can feel safe listening to music which doesn’t come from a heartfelt, emotional place but a considered, tactical place where the consideration is others, not the musician doing it for themselves, because “they have to write these songs and it’s just nice when others listen”.

But Franz Ferdinand are an organic indie band who dare to be different. They’ve never hidden their intention to “make girls dance”. They don’t care that their songs are made for others, to fill big venues, not to languish in small venues playing their hearts out. It can be disorientating. It also shows that worrying about the integrity of music is a useless venture.

After all, the Manchester Academy is a big venue, full on this night, of people who want to listen to Franz and their precision engineered dancefloor missiles. They’ll be listening with their feet of course, not their hearts. It’s evident on Franz’s new album, Tonight, that the flirtation with purely heartfelt tracks on the previous album, You Could Have Had It So Much Better With…, have been largely discarded. Now all emotions are bolted onto grooves and synths. And live is the best place to experience these songs.

Not my photo, but from this quite nifty album by a much superior photographer from that night.

It’s not unusual for songs to sound better live, but for them to sound better whilst still sounding almost exactly the same as the recorded versions is a little odd, but it’s something Franz have always done well. They are a tight live act. Very tight. Erring on the side of slick, and they pull it off but sometimes only just. The charm of the group helps. Twirling around the stage like giddy schoolkids, despite being old enough in some cases to have school age kids, showcases their energy. Alex Kapranos in particular has a grin which can be seen across the whole venue.

And then there was dancing. Lots and lots of it! It’s no surprise. If listening to Franz on record can get a little samey after a while, live it means a giant party atmosphere as most of the audience were well willing to join in the almost rave-like atmosphere. It’s a shame that their most overtly rave moment ‘Lucid Dreams’ was shorn of it’s epic techno coda. It would have gone down a treat in this place on this night. And what are Franz if not the soundtrack to a night out? A perfect place and a perfect time for a band who appear to have planned this perfectly.

It can never be love. But it can be fantastically lustful.

June 2009

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