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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Franz Ferdinand Plays to the Faithful at the Fox Oakland, 4/28/14

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Franz Ferdinand at the Fox Oakland last night.
  • Franz Ferdinand at the Fox Oakland last night.

Franz Ferdinand

April 28, 2014

Fox Theater, Oakland

By JORDANNAH ELIZABETH

Better than: Spending your Monday night eating bad Chinese, drinking whiskey, and stumbling to the Knockout.

An eclectic crowd of fans patiently waited for the Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand to take the stage at the Fox Theater in Oakland. The room was packed with an audience whose ages ranged from teenagers to silver-haired grandparents. Everyone seemed to be as alert as possible at 9:30 on a Monday night in a dimly lit theater.

The band members came onstage in sporting different versions of black and white mod running suits, which all included tightly tailored pants and box-shouldered jackets. It felt like watching a postmodern version of the Monkees (or maybe the Beatles when they were 21), as rhythm guitarist and keyboard player Nick McCarthy bobbed his head and fervently strummed his guitar with a toothy grin. He also played with his guitar strapped high to the middle of his chest, like many vintage pop and mod British bands did in the '60s. McCarthy and lead singer Alex Kapranos seemed to actually enjoy playing the show, but bass player Bob Hardy sulked the entire night, looking distracted and distant as he plucked out his bass notes.

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The band's setlist was a surprising grab bag, bouncing from one era and album to another. Franz Ferdinand performed the 2013 slow jam "Fresh Strawberries" right before moving into 2005's "Walk Away," keeping the audience guessing and enthusiastic as it danced and gyrated throughout most of the night.

The hour-long set scurried along as Kapranos' energy built a genuine connection with the audience. He took a moment early in the show to do a solo dance and PG-rated strip tease. The audience, of course, ate up the Scotsman's shameless pelvic thrusts as the band moved into "Can't Stop Feeling."

There were swelling EDM-style interludes and more than a moderate amount of simultaneous hand-clapping and arm-waving, which was mostly orchestrated by the band members themselves. Nonetheless, there was a shift in the mood of the show as McCarthy played an extended keyboard solo and Franz Ferdinand lurched into playing "Auf Achse," conjuring darker vibes. They quickly brought contrast to the mood, as Kapranos and McCarthy made their first attempt of the night to harmonize with each other vocally instead of sticking with their usual deadpan singing voices.

Franz Ferdinand fans finally experienced the moment they were anticipating when "Take Me Out" emerged with a slightly shaky start. The slow climax of the song was slightly awkward but redeemed itself -- and no matter what, the entire theater was going to go insane regardless of how well the song was played.

"Take Me Out" was positioned right in the middle of the show, with Franz Ferdinand performing a few more songs afterward. The energy stayed relatively high as "Sweet Flowers" was pumped up with a drum and bass interlude, and McCarthy switched from guitar to keys in the middle of the song. But the show began to feel long by the time the band got to its drug anthem, "Ulysses."

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All in all, Franz Ferdinand kept its audience engaged, as Alex Kapranos was endearingly attentive throughout the show. But artistically, the saving grace of the night was the four man drum solo that happened after Hardy, the bass player, finally came out of his rock 'n' roll stupor to join the group in collectively banging on Paul Thompson's drum set.

The fiery drum solo lasted for about six minutes and included a bit of crowd participation. The band's showmanship swelled during those moments, giving the audience something to remember. Franz Ferdinand's encore included "Right Action" and "This Fire," leaving its sea of fans buzzing and satisfied.


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