Franz Ferdinand + The Delays

Philip Robertson
Franz Ferdinand + The Delays

Franz Ferdinand + The Delays

City: New York
Venue: Roseland Ballroom
Date: 2004-09-09

Franz Ferdinand
The Delays
What a strange experience. Taking in bands at Roseland Ballroom has often made me yearn for the room to grow smaller to make the experience look and sound better. The Delays appeared swamped, even with the drum kit and various Franz Ferdinand paraphernalia adorning the stage alongside them. Greg Gilbert, frontman for the Delays, even looked slightly harried as he used a natural musical break to crouch on either side and at the front of the stage to exchange pleasantries with audience members. By the time Franz Ferdinand appeared on stage, the venue had finally met its match. At this point, the space appeared to be filled with a combination of a) the band's presence/ego, b) its over-sized heads and c) its writhing groupies. The Delays have produced some nice shiny, chart-oriented pieces of pop, but on tonight's evidence, they played them as if these songs didn't mean as much to them anymore and were delivered with little real conviction. The new U.K. single, "Lost in a Melody", appeared to wake them out of their stupor. More keyboard than guitar driven, all band members responded positively to this solid rhythmic piece with each musician finally involved in creating a quality sound as a unit. Too often Greg Gilbert threw into the mix an empty series of prolonged falsettos that didn't seem to go anywhere or add anything, as if lost for ideas. The theme continued with the frontman's apparent addiction to feedback, used in more than half the tracks of the seven song set, as if it were a new toy that he had finally been given batteries for. In "Long Time Coming", a much played summer pop single, Gilbert's vocal ability was used effectively and certainly soothed a crowd restless for Franz Ferdinand. The penultimate song of the Delays' set, possibly "Wanderlust", made the strongest statement that this band want to be more than merely another indie band with foppish hair, a falsetto vocalist and pop-rock aspirations. Featuring a cleverly twisting bassline, set alongside a Jamaican style drum and again a Gilbert falsetto, I would have been happy had the evening ended there. But it didn't. Enter Franz Ferdinand. Where to start? The pantomime "falling down backdrop routine" or shall I leap straight into the whole mock adoration of and by its stooges? My honest first impression, and a few friends have asked this as they also enjoyed the album, was embarrassment. I wanted to see and hear Alexander Kapranos and friends, enjoy the show and feel justified in following the hoards of people fawning for a piece of the band. Unfortunately, I must have missed Franz Ferdinand but did get to see a hilarious Spandau Ballet cover band, complete with glossy suits and stylized haircuts. Let's start with the music, as it was definitely inspiring enough to make your feet move or your head nod, but you'd better make sure you had rehearsed. The band was audaciously assessing the grooving groupies and at one stage announced "your dancing is getting much better," or something equally as condescending. Perhaps the Mercury Music Prize had gone to their collective heads, but Franz Ferdinand very much appeared to believe in and fully endorse the work the band's highly effective publicists have done. If they had put in as strong a performance as an audience that shrieked, screamed and faked coital climax at every possible moment. Perhaps it's rampant over-exposure that stopped me appreciating the half-cocked versions of "Take Me Out" or "Jacqueline", but I truly wanted to enjoy this and didn't. So there must be a rational explanation. Did I not understand the album? My honest belief is that the recorded articles on the album are well-constructed, pop rock tunes that inspire people to dance, albeit in a manner that would/should make shoegazing uncool, if it ever was. The observational lyrics tell stories of seduction, role-play, and voyeurism. Granted, there is an element of the camped up raucousness and sardonic British wit that causes people to make post-punk references, but the album is bulging with good tunes. From disco dirges with staccato guitars, to tinkling piano and Divine Comedy voiceover moments, it all worked and sounded great recorded, but personally watching the men behind the curtain operate their levers and buttons was a disappointing experience. Live Franz Ferdinand comes across as a disco-foot stomp, guitar-based pop band, performed in the aloof, arrogant manner of a self-professed hipster school master. The "saunter around your stage passing on your learnings" thing has been done, and done better than this lot by Jarvis Cocker. The pseudo intellectual warbling of wiry portentous 20th century boys has also been done much better by countless others. Franz Ferdinand are "like Interpol," they said. Pah! Franz Ferdinand's iconic gold on black logo is quite cool, yes. However, it now adorns every street corner, in the same frequency as discarded chewing gum on Manhattan's sidewalks.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.