Rock 'n' roll has an appetite for destruction, from the barraging of moral values to the shattering of ear drums. Across the barrier of the pit, guitars snarl and snap at hundreds of outstretched fingertips, the straining appendages of fans who worship the beasts on stage, yearning to catch their dripping sweat and feel their pulsing heat. Dressed in a leopard-print jacket and sporting a shoulder-length mane, Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos was on the prowl at Cleveland’s House of Blues on Wednesday night. He paced back and forth along the edge of the stage, teasing fans with seductive gestures and manic yelps as the band prodded him on through familiar favorites.
The band, which has not toured since 2014, was previously known for their impeccably clean shows, with bite-to-kill precision playing at double the speed of their records. But three years off the circuit has clearly made the band restless, resulting in comeback shows that are more frenzied and manic ... more rock 'n' roll.
With the Archduke himself overlooking the circus below, the band ripped through seventeen songs, including both well-loved tracks like “Jacqueline” and “This Fire” and brand new ones such as “Lazy Boy” and “Paper Cages.”
“That song is called ‘Lazy Boy,’ but it is the most exhausting song we play!” Kapranos joked after performing an intense series of kicks, jumps, and windmills. The band has yet to announce a new project, but it is clear that the tour is paving the way for a fresh set of tracks. Their last release was a Trump-roasting single called “Demagogue” that was commissioned for the 30 Days, 30 Songs
project, whose motto is “written and recorded by artists for an inclusive, compassionate and just America.” Although the group is from Glasgow, Scotland, Kapranos spoke of their “idealized view” of America from across the Atlantic. Kapranos couldn’t seem to remind himself often enough of the city in which he was playing, using frequent mentions of Cleveland’s name to rev the crowd. During “Do You Want To” from 2005's You Could Have It So Much Better
, he sang “Well here we are at the Cleveland party/I love your friends, they’re all so arty, oh yeah.”
Opening act Omni from Atlanta, Georgia, was a tight three-piece. Their lack of rhythm guitar forces each instrument to bear its own weight, producing a skeletal post-punk/new wave with a strong bass harmony backbone. No layer of skin and hair to hide behind here. Singer Philip Frobos seemed to feign a slight accent, a token homage to the sassy Brit punk they obviously admire.
The night allowed old fans to fall victim to Franz Ferdinand’s alluring charm once again. With the silent promise of a new release, perhaps the next tour will see a rebirth of the band amongst a new generation of music fans who aren’t familiar with their launch to cult classic status in the early 2000s.