Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand made their final stop on their «Hits To The Head» tour at Oslo’s Sentrum Scene on Tuesday night. The stage was coloured in their trademark artwork in black, white and red, with 4 platforms at the front which the band and sharply dressed frontman, Alex Kapranos, took full advantage of from the beginning, when they opened with the rhythmical «The Dark of the Matinée». He also reached out to the crowd and touched hands on several occasions, adding to the intimacy of the evening. Earlier on the tour, a small catwalk had been part of the stage set up, but here, all of the front row was close to the band.
An early highlight was «Do You Want To», which got the crowd jumping. Kapranos repeated the lyric «You’re so lucky» while pointing at individual members of the audience. This sort of showmanship and connection with the fans made up a little for the fact that he had a throat infection. He was honest about this, and said he would «sing his heart out until it goes», which received appreciative cheers.
The rest of the band were also dynamic in their stage presence, with the exception of the bassist and founding member Bob Hardy. That is not a criticism. His understated presence was compensated for by the tight, rhythmical playing which supported the sound. The keyboardist, Julian Corrie, shone during «Love Illumination», where he performed a quick, one-handed solo. «Alright, Oslo I want to see all your hands in the air», Kapranos shouted. A sea of high clapping hands appeared. The drummer, Audrey Tait, played tight, hard and fast especially during «Jacquleine», and she was given the spotlight centre stage, where she left her drumkit at the back, which the band took over and playfully banged together during «Outsiders».
The opening riff of «Take Me Out» met screams immediately, and the four front stage musicians stood side by side, proudly, while playing. Kapranos then climbed up the amp at the back of the stage and met the biggest cheer of the night so far. The track was the most exciting of the evening and would have been better placed just before the encore, or as part of it. It felt like the band peaked too early. The gig had clearly reached another level and some fans appeared on others’ shoulders during the next song «Ulysses», and underwear was thrown on stage. Kapranos quipped «Thanks for the extra underwear, mine shrank in the wash!»
However, although a new level of energy had been reached, the four-song encore began with two songs, «Billy Goodbye» and «Lucid Dreams», that did not reach the same excitement levels of «Take Me Out» and some earlier highlights. «Michael» was met with more enthusiasm and the crowd clapped along to the mid-section. «Oslo! I love the noise that you are making tonight. I want to hear more of that noise», said Kapranos before introducing the band, and then performing the final song of the evening, «This Fire». There was a dynamic guitar face off in the middle, with Kapranos and Dino Bardot dancing around and staring at each other. The crowd sang «burn this city» back to Kapranos after he sang “fire is out of control», multiple times, while gradually becoming louder and building in intensity. «Oslo, it’s one thing to hear it, but I need to feel it, are you with me tonight!? Thanks Oslo, you are the best, this is the last day of the tour. My voice is destroyed. You have been amazing. Now we’re going to take it down». Kapranos got down on the floor for a quiet section before rising triumphantly for the final section of the song.
Despite his voice problems, Kapranos is a highly entertaining frontman and he kept his word, by giving everything he had, climbing platforms, jumping in the air and holding hands with the front row. If you hadn’t seen Franz Ferndinand in concert before, this was the perfect introduction, with all their hits featured in the setlist. But «Take Me Out» should be taken out of the earlier part of the setlist and put in the encore. 4/6
Text and photography: Anne-Marie Forker