Franz Ferdinand returns without restrictions

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You can’t create dance music without rhythm being the body and soul of your work. In an interview with The Daily Californian, Franz Ferdinand bassist Bob Hardy asserted that the heart of all Franz Ferdinand recordings was in the melody. This couldn’t be more true after the Scottish quartet blew the roof off of Oakland’s Fox Theater with groovy guitar riffs and rich, full-bodied rhythms.

The dance-happy, excited crowd matched the intensity of the band during Monday night’s show. After 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, many fans thought they wouldn’t be able to see the band again. “When we finished touring the third album, we were all kind of exhausted,” Hardy said. “We didn’t make a plan to meet up in x amount of months to start working again, we just went our separate ways for a bit with no plans on writing or working on the next album. Enough space allowed us to remember what it meant to be Franz Ferdinand.”

The band opened with a barrage trio consisting of the high-speed, chord-pounding “Bullet,” with old favorites “The Dark Of The Matinee” and “Tell Her Tonight.” 

Barely taking a breath between songs, lead singer Alex Kapranos greeted the crowd and then proceeded to lead the band into the punchy, eerie riffs of “Evil Eye” from the band’s latest album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.

The tracks from their latest record resonate stronger with the band’s first album. Hardy described how a lack of pressure from labels and a more intimate recording setup allowed the band to get back to its roots.

“When you put out your first record, no one knows who you are, so there’s no deadlines or disturbance. It took us a while to realize we don’t work well under constant scrutinies, and our second record is very different because of that,” recalled Hardy. “This time, we didn’t feel the pressure and deadlines from the labels. Everything was kind of reflected in the energy on the album and the relaxed feeling of the recording.”

The relaxed feeling of the latest record truly came out during the show with songs like “Fresh Strawberries” and “Stand On the Horizon,” full of lullying progressions and soothing harmonies. These songs created a serene transition into “Walk Away,” from their second album, You Could Have It So Much Better

As a band known for its upbeat, ecstatic nature, Franz Ferdinand had to pick up the tempo to something a bit more hip-shaking from its discography. The band then rallied the crowd back up with a head-shaking burst, courtesy of “Michael.”

Whether it was playing crowd-pleaser “This Fire” or a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me,” Franz Ferdinand kept the crowd jiving while sharing playtime equally, rarely doing solos. “Well, as we all know, the most important instrument in the band is the bass, so when there’s a guitar solo, you can’t hear the bass as well,” Hardy joked as an explanation for the band’s rhythmic philosophy.

Is Franz Ferdinand the first band to focus its efforts on rhythm and dance music? Definitely not. But its execution and presentation was full of so much funk and finesse, I couldn’t help but ask them to “Take Me Out.” 

Ian Birnam covers music. Contact him at [email protected].