On August 20, Scottish indie-rock band Franz Ferdinand made their latest stop on their “Hits to the Head” tour at the Fillmore in Minneapolis. The album includes the band’s greatest hits dating back to the early 2000s, plus two new tracks featuring the talents of new drummer Audrey Tait who replaced original band member Paul Thompson in 2021.
Disclaimer: This reviewer was not familiar with this band prior to attending this concert. To put it in context, Franz Ferdinand’s (arguably) biggest hit “Take Me Out” came out when I was 5 years old. I came to this concert not as a Franz Ferdinand superfan, as many of my fellow concert-goers appeared to be, but I definitely left as one.
After listening to their entire discography in preparation for this concert, I knew I was in for the smooth vocals and instantly recognizable guitar lines that earned the band numerous accolades, including Grammy-nominations and two Brit Awards. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how truly great Franz Ferdinand sounds live. There was a good balance between vocals and instrumentals, an important detail because frontman Alex Kapranos’ voice is much stronger and fuller than captured on their albums and it would’ve been easy for him to steal the show from less charismatic musicians or with different songs. Instead, those aforementioned guitar lines are as exciting to the audience as the singing, and the vocal layering provided by Kapronas’ bandmates on guitar, keyboard, and bass was icing on the musical cake. Franz Ferdinand’s instrumentalists, even with newer members like Tait, Dino Bardot, and Julian Corrie, are a strong team, each sharing the spotlight and clearly enjoying the talent of their bandmates just as much as the audience.
Recordings never truly capture pure talent, and they especially can’t capture atmosphere, which is where Franz Ferdinand really impressed me. The Fillmore in Minneapolis is small enough to foster an immediate connection between audience and artists, but it’s big enough to pack in enough people to really make it a party. For a small band with a big sound, this was a great venue.
Since the dawn of the phone camera, going to a concert has usually involved staring past a sea of glowing screens recording the experience for perpetuity. Not so for Franz Ferdinand this past weekend. Yes, the occasional phone captured a favorite chorus or two, but all in all, this audience was living in the moment. The band is famously quoted as saying they wanted to make music “that girls would dance to” (this was back when indie-rock was a more male-dominated space), and I’m happy to say they’ve succeeded. As soon as the band took the stage, the crowd was roaring and ready to dance the night away.
Franz Ferdinand knows exactly how to rev up their audience. Whether the crowd was singing along to “Billy Goodbye” (one of the two new songs on the “Hits to the Head” album) or screaming the lyrics to the 2005 hit “Do You Want To,” the band created moments that brought the entire crowd together. One of the best parts of the concert was when the stage lights backlit the entire band as the guitarists repeatedly strummed the opening chords of “Take Me Out,” turning what was a five-second intro on the album into a minute of palpable anticipation for an audience dying to sing those famous first lyrics, “So if you’re lonely…”
While Franz Ferdinand may have passed their popularity peak (although, who knows? Those new songs are great!), good songs and good musicians are timeless. The “Hits to the Head” tour is a well-deserved victory lap for a talented group of artists and also an opportunity for fans (and fans-to-be!) to enjoy their music the way it’s meant to be heard: live and in person.