Friday, 28 March 2014

How to put on a show - updated

Recently I saw Franz Ferdinand in the O2 Academy in Bristol - it was a lesson in how to put on a show. In the last  year or so I've seen Suede, Keane and Depeche Mode (twice) live, but Franz Ferdinand had them all beat hollow for sheer showmanship. So what do you have to do to put on a great show?

1. Look like you're enjoying yourself
Alex Kapranos (lead singer and guitarist) grinned through quite a lot of the gig. In his banter, he picked out some keen audience members and even dedicated a song to a guy who was dancing wildly. The bassist scarcely moved or cracked a smile, but even so the band really seemed to be loving being on stage together and getting to play their music. They put masses of energy into the show in spite of it being a reasonably small venue in a reasonably small city. They didn't look jaded like bands can do when they've been touring too much.

2. Communicate (intelligibly) with the audience
The support act to Franz Ferdinand had a lead singer who mumbled a few awkward comments (including not saying their band name clearly - which is really important to do if you're an unknown band!). Alex was clear and confident, saying just enough to build rapport while keeping the energy of the music going.

3. Re-mix and jam your music
Suede and Keane both played brilliantly live, but every song was exactly the same as their records; same tempo, same structure, not even an extra repeated chorus. Franz Ferdinand and Depeche Mode both mixed up their music to give us something live that we couldn't have just listening to a record at home. The highlight of Franz Ferdinand was a long drum solo with all four band members to end a storming rendition of Outsiders.

4. Think about the visuals
Franz Ferdinand are well known for dressing up. For their Bristol gig they worn matching custom-made black, white and grey outfits. They looked amazing jumping about in front of the mainly monochrome images projected onto the set and screen behind them.

5. Turn an interested bystander into super-fan
Before this gig I was kind of fond of Franz Ferdinand. I had one of their old albums and had listened to their new album a few times but wasn't in love with it.

Somehow, seeing the band perform a whole range of their songs has turned me from feeling vaguely interested into someone who's been playing their music daily and raving about how cool it is. Magic.

In case you're interested, here is the set list with links to most of the videos.

Update: so this happened...

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