Franz Ferdinand – O2 Academy, Brixton – 24.02.18

Of the many artists re-joining the pop world in 2018, there will be few to be as warmly welcomed back as Franz Ferdinand. Back with new album Always Ascending, their first one as Franz properly in five years (not counting supergroup collaboration FFS with Sparks in 2015); after years moving between punk, pop, and dance, they have landed on a wonderful melange of all three for their current sound, which at times during this new tour, ascended higher than even they thought.

It was no understatement to say that for the Glaswegian groups’ London return gig at the O2 Brixton Academy  (as part of the NME Awards Shows 2018) the venue was literally bursting at the seams on to the chilly, bustling streets of a Saturday night in south London. The crowd anticipated a big night and a set full of hits and new attractions, and they were not disappointed. If the crowded venue gave reason to not move from your carefully poised spot, the ninety-minute strong set was so packed full of powerful pop anthems to waste time at the bar would have meant seriously missing out.

Opening with the title track from the new album and a stand out from the record, Always Ascending, this led the way and included seven more from it as the group were keen to showcase much anticipated new material, a strong and confident comeback album produced by French ‘nu-pop’ producer Phillipe Zdar. Amongst many oldies, No You Girls  from 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand landed with adoration, as well as their biggest Take Me Out & Do You Want To. Lead singer, freshly peroxided Alex Kapranos was on boisterous form, regularly goading the crowd into cheers and shout outs, and was generous too in giving every member of the retooled group their moment in the sun.

A glorious four song encore rounded off a strong set, including stand out new track Feel The Love Go which here was squeezed of every last drop of pop pith to span nearly ten minutes. From the strength of their energy tonight, and new album, it’s clear that Franz Ferdinand mean business, and by George it’s great to have them back.

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