Franz Ferdinand Blast Through "Tonight" Tunes at Seattle Opener

April 14, 2009 8:53 AM ET

The Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle is a sit-down venue, but you'd never know it judging from Franz Ferdinand's performance there Monday night. The Scottish quartet's 85-minute set had a road-tight feel, despite the show being the kickoff of the group's U.S. tour, and the audience reacted in kind, standing throughout the set.

Playing in front of a back wall of white video/light-show panels, the group walked on and with zero fuss kicked into "Do You Want To," the hit from 2005's You Could Have It So Much Better, Franz's second album. Singer-guitarist Alex Kapranos — simple and stylish in blue slacks and a black button-down with small white dots and plaid lining visible on his rolled-up sleeves — was wiry but contained, moving plenty but always in control, not unlike Franz's music itself.

Franz Ferdinand's main set was nonstop, with the band barely stopping between songs and banter kept to a minimum. The set largely concentrated on songs from the new Tonight: Franz Ferdinand ("No You Girls," the current single, was an early highlight) and their self-titled debut, particularly a rollicking "Take Me Out," the band's best-known hit (from 2004), featuring the audience on the title line as Kapranos, bassist Bob Hardy, guitarist Nick McCarth, and drummer Paul Thomson dropped out for a few seconds. Without a moment's pause, Franz charged into Tonight's "Turn It On."

The encore was far looser. Where the brisk main set paraded 13 songs in 52 minutes, the bonus set was 33 minutes and featured five songs. Kapranos began by holding up his beverage: "Cheers! It's a Starbucks coffee cup, but there's scotch whiskey in it." "Jacqueline" brought a shout from a woman up front: "I love you!" (Everybody cheered that one.)

"Lucid Dreams" was a stellar showpiece, with Kapranos leading the audience in call-and-response variations on "Uh-huh, yeah," and the group trading instruments: Kapranos briefly on drums and, alongside McCarthy, synthesizer, Thompson beating syn-drum pads during a portion of the song where a machine rhythm took over, giving the song a glossy techno-rock groove. Closing out with "This Fire," the band finished with a good old-fashioned hands-held stage bow, appropriate for a group that knows how to put on a show.

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