Franz Ferdinand at Alexandra Palace
This autumn Franz Ferdinand embarked on their greatest hits tour, aptly named ‘Hits to the Head’, entertaining fans countrywide with over twenty years worth of irresistible indie hits. On 20 October 2022, they graced a raucous crowd at Ally Pally.
I was only 8 when ‘Take Me Out’ was released. I remember coming across it on the TV one day after school. Since then, I can’t remember how many times I’ve listened to it, whether it be before getting ready for nights out at university or needing something energetic to listen to so I can stay awake during the work commute on many winter mornings. Franz Ferdinand were one of those bands that provided a soundtrack for many kids growing up – and continue to for younger generations – with a discography that appropriately complements our phases of angst, our energy-fueled impulses and that irresistible swagger we all wish we had as teenagers (you know, those times when we think we’re ‘cool’). Now, ‘Take Me Out’ is an apt song to listen to when I need cheering up or have to get out of bed.
Anyway, back to Ally Pally.
Now, rather embarrassingly, I only really knew 3 or 4 of their songs. So this was a bit of a departure from former gigs where I knew a good 90% of what might come up on the setlist. Then again, I saw this as a bit of a blessing. This only meant that the only way was up, really, and there was a decent chance that I was going to leave Ally Pally that night with a substantial bundle of new songs to listen to on repeat.
The Support: Medicine Cabinet
The support included two brilliant Glasgow bands: Medicine Cabinet and Los Bitchos, each with their own, unique brand of indie. I hadn’t heard of their music before, both being fairly new on the scene, so I was excited for what was to come.
Medicine Cabinet were first on the stage, consisting of Anna Acquroff, Joshua Chakir, Eilidh O’Brien, Cal Menzies and Joseph Lowrie. Their warm bop ‘The Signs’, which the band released earlier this year, possessed a bubbly spirit which pulsated through the crowd. Full of hooks, infectious energy and sing-a-long opportunities, it’s easy to see why it’s had such a positive reception on BBC Radio 1. I especially loved the voice of the lead vocalist, Anna Acquroff, which adds an enjoyable sweetness to the songs. Medicine Cabinet closed their set with ‘Factor 50!’, their most recent tune: a passionate yet cheeky infatuation song which grabs your attention from the very first riff. With its pounding drums, soaring electric guitar riffs and suggestive lyrics, it really takes you back to the piercing rays of heat the peak of summer brings.
Then again, with the weather we’ve had recently, it seems that summer is still clinging on for dear life…
The Support: Los Bitchos
Then, after a short break, the night’s second act ascended onto the stage. Los Bitchos is a Glasgow band with a sound that immediately transports you to Latin America. With their nods to cumbia music in the 60s and 70s, four badass girls, Serra Petale (guitar), Agustina Ruiz (keys), Josefine Jonsson (bass guitar), and Nic Crawshaw (drums) brought a selection of infectious instrumentals to Ally Pally. Songs such as ‘The Link is About to Die‘, ‘Good to Go‘ (if you watch the video there is a special guest appearance) and ‘Pista (Fresh Start)‘ got everyone dancing and put a real spring in everyone’s steps. It was evident that they were having a wonderful time on stage, and you can’t help just join them.
Although a very different flavour to the previous act, seeing both bands in succession proved that the Glasgow indie scene is still very much alive and well. It has real vibrancy and variety that everyone should delve deeper into.
The Main Act: Franz Ferdinand
It was just after 9 when the curtains lifted and Franz Ferdinand appeared. Their set began with ‘The Dark of The Matinee’, the rip-roaring and flirtatious song that got everyone singing from the start. The energy continued with ‘No You Girls’, with its searing electric guitar and funk tones. This can be heard later on in the set too, with the invigorating ‘Evil Eye’. ‘Walk Away’ brings the temperature down slightly, a sad yet hook-fuelled song that showcases the vocal talent of FF frontman Alex Kapranos, who set the stage on fire with his red and silver suit.
Halfway through the set is when some of the more well-known big hitters appear. ‘Do You Want To’ got everyone jumping and shouting the words, and ‘Take Me Out’ made the crowd reach the night’s highest level of euphoria.
The set ended with ‘Outsiders’, as Franz Ferdinand were joined on stage by Los Bitchos. Ironically enough, it almost sounded as if it were a song they’d written together – it merged their sounds so well. What a party!
So, after playing the majority of their biggest hits in the main set (or so I thought), what surprises did they have for the encore?
They appeared once again after taking a momentary break offstage. Fans were treated to three more brilliant songs: ‘Billy Goodbye’, an appropriate party hit to begin to close off proceedings, the electrifying floorfiller ‘Michael’ and lastly, ‘This Fire’ – the perfect song to top off an evening of rowdy fun. And very apt – as Franz Ferdinand were indeed on fire, metaphorically anyway, and the house was going to be brought down with their closer.
Franz Ferdinand lifted the roof off of Ally Pally, reminding all those in attendance why they’ve been an indie favourite for so many. Apart from being a moment to have fun with a band you love, it was also a fun opportunity to temporarily revisit all of our youths and its nostalgic aura of freedom and cheekiness. With the help of the stellar support acts, it was a brilliant night out and I’ll definitely see them live again at the earliest opportunity.
And yes, I did walk away with 8 more Franz Ferdinand songs added to my ‘Favourites’ playlist.
I shall leave you with my favourite photo from the night.
Thanks for reading!
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