Ten years later and they still have it.
When Franz Ferdinand took the stage at Orpheum Theatre Sunday night, the band secured its title as indie rock royalty as the foursome played both decade-old hits and brand-new releases, each song dripping with relevance and perfection without even the slightest hint of being forced.
Glasgow band Casual Sex opened the show. They started off with an air of surf rock, but transitioned into an early English punk rock vibe, reflecting sounds likened to the Sex Pistols, The Clash and Billy Idol, with perhaps more of a psychedelic component.
While it took a while for the crowd to get into it, the set evolved into a cool performance, capitalized by the catchy, rockabilly twang of “What’s Your Daughter For.”
The band appears to have a promising future and, most importantly, they clearly enjoy performing and appreciate their fans. This was most notable when the band stopped to take a picture of the audience before leaving the stage.
Frankie Rose, who earned “Best New Music“ honors from Pitchfork in 2012 for her second full-length release Interstellar, took the stage next. Between the oddly airy vocals and heavy reliance on synthesizers, the music was not particularly intriguing or new.
It seemed almost too much like rebellious teenagers playing in their garage, à la Lindsay Lohan’s band in Freaky Friday, and if there had been less of a “Mom, you’re ruining my life!” feel to the music, it might have been more memorable.
Part of that could have stemmed from restlessness due to the long wait for the headliner to take the stage. But it was more than worth the wait.
Franz Ferdinand’s set opened with 2009 dance-punk hit “No You Girls,” and the audience immediately broke into a fury of awkward hipster dancing. That flowed into a near-perfect rendition of “Right Action,” the lead track off of the band’s August release Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.
Going back to a classic, “The Dark of the Matinée” drew on every positive aspect of frontman Alex Kapranos’ vocal ability — it was a deep, enticing performance with undeniable sex appeal.
When the riffs of “Bullet” began, the audience’s enthusiasm took somewhat of a backseat, as the song is not yet as recognizable as some of the band’s other songs.
But despite its lack of exposure, the song quickly grew on the audience with the harsh yet oh-so-perfect harmonies of Kapranos and backup singer Nick McCarthy.
Kapranos paused to chat with the crowd, and with a look of approval, the familiar riff for “Do You Want To” and the words “Oh when I woke up tonight I said / I’m Gonna make somebody love me” suddenly filled the room.
Midway through the song, Kapranos held up a piece of paper with the lyrics “Oh, lucky lucky / You’re so lucky,” motioning for the audience to chant along. The crowd responded as instructed, clapping in unison, swelling into a booming rally call, not too different from a sporting event.
“Evil Eye” bounced with a unique spookiness, after which the show slowed down a bit with “Walk Away” and “Stand on the Horizon.” When the instrumentals backed out at the end of “Stand on the Horizon,” Kapranos and McCarthy bloomed into a round of “The North Sea sings / Won’t you come to me, baby?” The crowd that had been electric for most of the show grew silent, enraptured by the ease and beauty Franz Ferdinand retains in its songwriting 10 years after first erupting onto the scene.
Shortly thereafter, of course, the band’s best known song “Take Me Out” brought the crowd to near insanity, and rightfully so. It was saturated with every beautiful ounce of pure middle school elation. The ending of “Take Me Out” transitioned into recent single “Love Illumination” flawlessly, representing one of the most impressive aspects of the show — every song, old and new, fit into that distinct Franz Ferdinand sound, with no songs seeming out of place.
The first part of the show closed with “The Fallen” — which notably demonstrated the stellar bass-playing ability of Bob Hardy — and “Ulysses,” which prompted members of the audience to wave their arms back and forth in unison and sing along with every word.
When the band came back on for an encore, the crowd’s energy shot through the roof as Franz Ferdinand played another of its first album hits, “This Fire.”
A member of the audience with a broken leg waved his crutches in the air, prompting a smile and shout-out from Kapranos.
The set closed with “Goodbye Lovers and Friends,” the closing track off of Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. With the raw emotion of Kapranos’s voice during “So don’t wear bright colors / You know I hate bright colors,” every person in the audience, perhaps, also hated bright colors at that moment.
For those whose love for Franz Ferdinand stems from their 2003 self-titled album and 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better, the show nourished every desire for the classic Franz Ferdinand vibe.
Even more significantly, the concert proved that Franz Ferdinand is still creating high quality, get-up-and-dance indie rock.