Where were you in 2004? Wherever that may have been, you were probably at Legacy this past Tuesday, recalling the first buzz of a new band that blazed through indie rock. Franz Ferdinand have since held their own, storming around the world umpteen times on the strength of three more albums. This night they were at Legacy, and so was half of Taipei. Old friends to the left of me, local rock stars to the right. It was the place to be, for sure.
I finished work late and missed the openers Wake Up! Explosion. I’ll defer to our awesome cameraman Ian Kuo for his impressions:
When I see local bands I’ve never heard of opening for bigger international acts, I always worry. I’ve seen pretty well-established bands trip themselves up at events like these, and it’s been consistent enough that I’ll probably always worry about it. Thankfully, Wake Up! Explosion did well enough to not fall in that category.
While their style was not exactly a fit for Franz Ferdinand, they certainly did nothing to detract from the overall experience. With a simply steady, bluesy, teasingly retro sound, the three-piece did a pretty good job of appeasing a pretty damned full Legacy waiting for the big band.
I look forward to seeing what else these newcomers bring to the scene. They obviously handled the stress of a near-full Legacy crowd well enough.
I was, however, right on time for our headliners. The band hit the stage with a bang, “Bullet” and “No You Girls” leading the charge. All I could think was, wow, this crowd is LOUD tonight. The loudest audience I can remember in Taipei, to be honest. Singer Alex Kapranos did lots to help the cause, leaving his microphone perch to high five the front rows, with guitarist Nick McCarthy flashing his best moves. Throw in some Chinese greetings and “oldies” like “Tell Her Tonight” and “Matinee” and we were putty in their hands.
Franz Ferdinand were polished but never stiff, both loose and in control. It’s always great to see a band having fun and that’s what we got. Not only that, they were getting better and better as they went on. “Walk Away” got the crowd singing and by the time they played “Michael,” it had definitely gone up a level.
Only a few songs later, they managed to ratchet it up even more. “Do You Want To” was a highlight moment for me, as the stars I’d doodled here in my notes looked quite galactic upon inspection. “Take Me Out” got the rapturous response you’d expect, while “This Fire” was performed to a sensuous, deep red backlight. During the breakdown, Alex was reaching soulful, Danzig-esque proportions. It was pretty cool for a metal-punk like me. And the crowd, still loud. Wait, I mean LOUD.
Encore time: “Shopping for Blood,” “Jacqueline,” and a song that seemed written for such occasions, “Goodbye Lovers and Friends.” But how do you really say goodbye? Maybe your parting shot should be a drum solo? Or what’s the opposite of a drum solo, a drum gangbang? By whatever name, that’s what we got, as the band rushed the drum kit and pounded along. ’Twas a thrilling, unexpected way to wrap up a strong show.
With chops and charm to spare, Franz Ferdinand left their fans aglow.
Oh, but there was one more surprise! The band rewarded the hopeful and the lingerers alike by emerging perhaps 15 minutes later outside the front doors to sign autographs, take photos, and chat. It was especially nice to see them graciously accommodating everyone to the point that, when they walked away to catch their transport onward, not a single person followed or stalked them. Maybe that’s just Taipei people being polite and respectful. But it was rather classy all around on both ends. Franz Ferdinand, I salute you!