Tag Archives: Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand – ‘Always Ascending’ [Domino]

Franz Ferdinand is back with their new single ‘Always Ascending’ with that recognisable sound, but a whole new force of greatness.

The unique voice of Alex Kapranos shines like you might remember it did.

Almost festive in the opening minute, it softly edges you towards a familiar drumbeat, which kicks in with a solid pulse; the transition is effortless and exudes musical flair.

Expertly executed harmonies will put a spring in your step, the backbeat is strong and always pushing you forward until it suddenly stops, and you wait in anticipation of what might come next.

The de-layering of instruments like this demonstrates the band’s keen ability for intelligent musicality while still dowsing your ears with something light and unflappable.

In many ways, sticking to a very familiar sound proves to be a successful decision.

There’s just enough newness to provide intrigue while not leaving old fans detached from the nostalgia of the classic Franz.

Making a comeback like this could have been a risky decision but these guys pull off this new release on many levels.

From their uplifting energy to their unique vocal sounds, the new album release is an exciting prospect for 2018.

Words: Rachel Cunningham

Photo Review: Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 2017

In a chaotic affair we ending out not having any reviewers up at Belladrum this year, but we felt we’d be missing out if we called a halt on our photographers Allan Lewis and Stewart Fullerton going, so up they went and they got some great shots. Here’s some of the picks that we thought we’d share.



























FFS at The Art School, 16/6/15

When it was first announced that Franz Ferdinand and Sparks were going to collaborate it was kind of taken with a pitch of salt; neither band had done anything notably special on record for a good 10 years, so how them collaborating on record could inspire more was a difficult one to imagine.

Step up the album; self-titled as the band somewhat hilariously take on the FFS mantel, and everyone is left surprised, it’s actually really good!

It seems both acts have blessed each other with a real lease of life, yes there are some utterly question efforts squeezed on there, but the most part it’s the best thing either act have touched in years.

This lease of life is shown on stage too, in their first ever live venue show; making a triumphant entrance to the venue space where Franz played their first ever gig, albeit somewhat revamped, Nick McCarthy leading the way sporting the biggest beamer you’ll see all night.

They open with ‘Police Encounters’, which acts as a nice warmer for the crowd, as the band ease into their dynamic, both Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael looking ecstatic to be here; the former glancing over his shoulder at the Sparks frontman seemingly checking if this is actually real, while the latter seems to just be reassured by having a new set of material that has strong credentials about it.

Ron Mael portrays the same image he has for his band’s five decade spanning lifetime, sat sternly behind his keyboard without any sign of emotion, yet still brilliantly intimidating, intense and engrossing; all the while Bob Hardy lingers awkwardly behind him.

The majority of the album has Sparks written all over it, yes there is the odd Franz stomp and Kapranos’ smug baritone, while some of the lyrics are quite hard to place between Russell Mael’s absurdities and Kapronos’ sometimes odd turns of phrase.

Single ‘Johnny Delusional’ gives us the first real glimpse at how spectacular Russell Mael’s falsetto still is, it’s hard to believe how good it actually is and how much energy he puts across the stage at the age of 66.

One of the better tracks on the album, the pretty amusing ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’, maintains the energy between the two frontmen and allows the first crack in Ron Mael’s persona, along with a huge cheer, as every member takes a line, before the first forage into the individual band’s back catalogues, as Franz’s bounce along anthem ‘Do You Want To’ proves a hit with both old and young in the audience, this is followed a couple of songs later by Sparks’ ‘When Do I Get To Sing “My Way”’.

The buzzing funk of ‘Call Girl’ gives way to the sheer dramatic anthem that is Sparks’ defining hit ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’ as the full crowd get dragged off into some kind of intense world where Sparks are somehow improved by the presence of big Alex K and co.

Things disappear slightly with the ridiculous ‘Dictator’s Son’, which sees the frontmen rhyming “Harris tweed” with “Bundesliga”, “Instagram” with “bands who jam”, along with all other sorts of silly nonsense.

Franz classic ‘Take Me Out’ powers proceedings up again, before perhaps the strongest track of the album ‘Piss Off’, which apparently has been written nigh on a decade, that comes closest to classic Sparks as we’re likely to see these days, brings us confidently into the encore.

The band return with a switch around in set up as Paul Thomson switches to an electric kit and Ron Mael emerges sporting a “border line attractive for afar” tee for ‘So Desu Ne’, before perhaps the biggest sing along of the night comes in the form of Sparks classic ‘The Number One Song In Heaven’, which culminates in Ron Mael taking centre stage almost leering at the crowd, before the entire rest of the band take on percussion duties for him to perform a cheesy wee dance and crack and cheery looking smile, which in turn is met by the biggest reaction of the night.

Proceedings are closed off by a rather impressive, synth heavy rearrangement of Franz hit ‘Michael’ before the six members collect centre stage to take a bow.

For two bands that were somewhat living from their back catalogues, albeit one rather more expansive than the other, this is a real turn in fortunes; it appears that both band’s have found some sort of lease from each other and it’s one that’s more than welcome.

More Photos

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Elina Lin

T in the Park, Sunday, 13/7/14

It’s only fitting that the last day of live music in Balado in bathed in sunshine and a total relief after yesterday’s torrential downpours threatened the ground’s integrity and surely left a few with puddles in their tents.

Starting the day at the King Tut’s Tent where a mixed crowd gather to see two very different acts, the act that actually arrives are Glasgow rockers Tijuana Bibles and not the billed Earl Sweatshirt, as the Odd Future rapper had cancelled before the weekend started but not before the lanyards went to print, so there’s some slightly baffled faces when the beard heavy four-piece arrive on stage all be to the sound of Earl Sweatshirt, as if giving a swift kick in the balls to his fans – it’s also worth noting that Chance the Rapper had also cancelled, leaving T clearly void of any big stage hip-hop, that’s unless Tinie float your boat or if Example goes back to his breakthrough days.

The Bibles are clearly not phased by the crowd or the bump up in stage from their billed BBC Introducing slot and drill out a set of confidence filled hard rock as Tony Costello quips “how’s the hangovers?” to a lacklustre response before returning “that bad?”.

Stopping mid set to announce “we are all Earl Sweatshirt,” they are clearly revelling in the situation as their rollicking sneered effects bring to mind Queens of the Stone Age with their thumping, driving vibes.

Over at BBC Introducing there’s a secret act about to come on, to those at the tent for The Amazing Snakeheads last night it was already revealed as uncle Vic unleashed the news that CHVRCHES would be doing an intimate gig in one of the festival’s smaller stages.

Billed as Star Writer the Glasgow trio are clearly buzzing to get up and do this, and the packed tent goes to show how popular these guys are – on Friday’s review I had noted at being slightly bored with the same live material from CHVRCHES, but the opportunity to see them in the smallest space you’re ever likely to see them again is too much to pass up on.

It’s more of the same soaring electronic and sweet vocals as Lauren Mayberry reveals she “applied for T Break five times,” clearly overjoyed at finally getting to play one of T’s smaller stages.

There’s no Mitre logos in the back this afternoon and as Martin Doherty takes centre stage for ‘Under the Tide’ we get a closer look at his twitchy energetic performance as he really loses himself in the track, looking like man trying to exorcise himself, it is a belter of a tune though and no CHVRCHES set would be right without it.

As Mayberry announces that they’re on a mad dash over to catch The Twilight Sad over at King Tut’s I exit on the same pilgrimage and arrive for the last couple as their familiar, ultra loud  soundscapes are accented by James Graham rolling r’s, as he maintains his usual trance-like performance that has made these guys such a live experience over the years.

As they close the set with debut album classic ‘And She Would Darken The Memory’ there is a feeling of something lost in the huge tent as the typical clear vocals aren’t quite as crisp as they have been in previous outings, still worth the trek over though.

Over at T Break London chart-topper Jess Glynne is delivering some soaring vocals of her own over some soulful, harmonious backing vocals.

At points the music does comes across as too brash and drown out Gylnne’s strong vocal talents, but the sets is saved by a few infectious flourishes and well known tracks like Clean Bandit number one ‘Rather Be’.

Over at the Main Stage Bastille’s entrance to the Twin Peak theme creates some intrigue but 30-seconds into their set that is destroyed as their cringeworthy indie rock takes hold.

At T Break Blackpool rockers Darlia take to the stage and deliver a grunge tinted set with a frontman with plenty of attitude, coming across as a slightly less quirky, more lad-like Ariel Pink.

Still, the songs themselves  have enough punch and sneer to entertain while outside CHRVCHES blast into their third set of the festival, surely some kind of record, filling in after London Grammar’s late pull out.

At the Tut’s Tent Tame Impala have the misfortune of playing inside when their set is perfectly suited  to today’s sunny outdoor conditions, still there’s a hefty crowd turned up to see the Aussie’s psychedelic indie rock vibes.

Their set is typically subdued with rasps of energy ensuing sporadically as the music flows  gloriously over a crowd seemingly in the mood for a final hurrah before the end of the festival.

Playing tracks from their two studio albums to date the crowd lap up every number with 2012 single ‘Elephant’ going down particularly well, if there’s any criticism to be had the set could have done with being a touch louder.

Following that the Tut’s Tent seems set for a singalong and everyone’s in the right place for it as T favourites Franz Ferdinand take to the stage and totally smash it out the park, how bands like the Kaiser Chiefs managed to get Main Stage slots and Franz don’t is a total mystery, they may not have released anything of note in recent years, but neither have Ricky Wilson’s mob, and Alex Kapranos and co. are almost universally loved by this Balado crowd as ‘The Dark of the Matinee’ gives us an early highlight.

Kapranos quips “it’s good to be home” with a boyish grin as the band revel to playing to possibly the biggest crowd they’ve had to in a good while, before You Could Have It So Much Better  singles ‘The Fallen’ and ‘Walk Away’ ring round the tent.

I take the opportunity to try and catch a bit of Secret Motorbikes, unfortunately I don’t get as far as T Break and am soon dragged back down to Tut’s for the rest of big Alex and co. where they close the set in rip roaring fashion with debut album hits ‘Michael’, ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘This Fire’; glorious stuff.

This time I actually make it to T Break just as Glasgow darlings Blood Relatives start their set, and it’s a charming one at that, filled with joyous dancing from the crowd and pop ditties from the stage.

Their tunes put as smile on your face as Anna Meldrum’s distinctly Scottish yet perfectly addictive voice leads the fray and gives us that perfect piece of sunshine before the sun sets on Balado and you pick your headliner; even Jesus has turned up to see them as Meldrum apologises for ruining Christmas by telling her mum she didn’t believe in him before allowing the enthusiastic crowd to get back into their dancing.

It’s a difficult choice for headliners as Sheffield latest sons of indie rock, yet tax dodging traitors Arctic Monkeys take the Main Stage and London’s young dance pioneers Disclosure close things out on the Radio One Stage.

I decide to go for the former, having seen Disclosure perform full sets previously and while being mighty impressed by them I have always felt they suit a cavernous club setting rather than a massive Balado field in the twilight, that and of course T in the Park is first and foremost a rock festival and for that the Monkeys are the band of the moment.

Tax dodging aside Alex Turner and co. have done some fantastic things in their relatively short lifespan and that doesn’t appear to be slowing down, yes Turner, who now look the total rock star if a little Joe Strummer wannabe, has come along way since their humble “don’t believe the hype” beginnings, but they’re pulling it off.

Many had gone off the Monkeys but I didn’t mind Turner’s of his tits Brits ridiculously-ness, but this tax dodgy malarky is unforgivable for a band of their roots, still their music has to appreciated and tonight it packs a punch as they play a very bare stage in comparison to what Biffy had last night, maybe they’re feeling guilty and saving to pay the money back.

The sets comes in flows, at times it’s ridiculously good and at other it verges on dull, while the crowd at points don’t seem to get into it, yes they have five number one albums but these guys haven’t topped the singles chart since ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ blasted them into our awareness some nine years ago, the latter of which doesn’t get an airing but the former gets possibly the most energetic response a crowd have given all weekend.

But as we wave goodbye to Balado for the final time time each and everyone of the people here will have their own personal highlight from their years in these fields and I’m sure they’ll be up at Strathallan Castle next years as that becomes the new venue for the biggest dates in many people’s calendars.

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Bill Gray