Live Review: Jack White, live and in person, at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London, Thursday 3rd July, 2014

One of only a handful of indoor dates on the current stretch of his tour in support of second solo LP proper Lazaretto, Jack White’s seamless blend of folk, blues, country, hip- hop and old- school rock n’ roll reveals an artist who combines a wealth of experience with youthful hunger and enthusiasm, writes Philip Cummins

Jack White attacking his Fender Telecaster. Photo: David Swanson. Source:

Jack White attacking his Fender Telecaster. Photo: David Swanson. Source:

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland. To read the original, please click here.

SPEAKING to BBC Radio One’s Zane Lowe during a live session prior to tonight’s sold out show in Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo, Nashville based Detroit native Jack White vented his frustration of playing his sets at festivals and outdoor venues, particularly in light of his recent performance at Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, which received mixed reactions from critics and fans alike: “I guess I’m trying to put on a club show for 100 people in front of 100,000 people”,  conceded 39 year- old White.

Previously, White has described festivals as “a necessary evil”. In an interview with BBC news during September 2012, White claimed “I don’t get excited about festivals – they’re not my favourite place to play…everyone’s drinking and lazing in the sun and walking around and that’s a fun thing for them but it’s not interesting for me.”

Tonight’s show, then, finds White in his natural habitat; an indoor venue packed with a capacity crowd of 8,500 dedicated fans who snapped up tickets within minutes of the show going on general sale, the show selling out almost immediately.

Jack White jamming with his band of seasoned players. Image: Dan Swanson. Source:

Jack White jamming with his band of seasoned players. Image: Dan Swanson. Source:

Tearing into ‘Sixteen Saltines’ from 2012’s excellent Blunderbuss, White’s band of seasoned players perform comfortably at their own rhythm, mixing up the tempo of the song and improvising naturally and with little labour. White Stripes fan favorites ‘Astro’, ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’ and ‘Hotel Yorba’ follow, the latter of which is given a “Nashville” treatment with added fiddle and pedal steel, gaining more character and depth with additional musical arrangements.

Similarly, tonight’s version of ‘Top Yourself’, a White tune from The Raconteurs’ Consolers of the Lonely, gains more intensity and more complexity. It’s the effortless blend of bluegrass arrangements with White’s ferocious guitar tones that make a fine example of White’s negotiation of the Americana roots music of Nashville and the garage rock of his native Detroit. The same is true of ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As Your Told)’ from 2007 White Stripes record Icky Thump, the title track of which also blends beautifully with the title track of recent second solo album proper Lazaretto.

Throughout tonight’s set, it becomes more and more apparent that styles win out: the rap- rock of ‘Lazaretto’; the frenetic blues of ‘Ball and the Biscuit’ (recorded at London’s Toe Rag studios during sessions for 2002 classic Elephant); the Nirvana- inspired ‘Steady, As She Goes’; the Let it Bleed– era Rolling Stones- inspired ‘Just One Drink’; the funk- blues of Lazaretto opener ‘Three Women’, based on Blind Willie McTell’s ‘Three Women Blues’.

Jack White holding his beloved 1950′s Kay Hollowbody Archtop guitar during a break in set closer 'Seven Nation Army'

Jack White holding his beloved 1950′s Kay Hollowbody Archtop guitar during a break in set closer ‘Seven Nation Army’. Image: Dan Swanson. Source:

While ‘Seven Nation Army’, arguably White’s best known track, is becoming old hat as a set – closer, it’s the sheer breadth of White’s musical references and, most importantly, his interpretation of those references that marks him out as a true original.

Tonight, as with last night’s secret, medical- themed show in a basement just off London’s Strand,  after which White theatrically collapsed on stage and later wheeled off stage on a stretcher, it’s clear that White is occupying the same ground as Tom Waits did in the 1980s; an uncompromising artist and performer, gloriously and blissfully out of step with modern tastes and trends and a showman  who makes his peers look like wallflowers. We’re lucky to have him.

Jack White and his band bid the audience good night after a triumphant show at London's Hammersmith Apollo.

Jack White and his band bid the audience good night after a triumphant show at London’s Hammersmith Apollo.  Image: Dan Swanson. Source:

Set List

  1. Sixteen Saltines
  2. Astro (The White Stripes song)
  3. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
  4. High Ball Stepper
  5. Lazaretto
  6. Hotel Yorba
  7. Temporary Ground
  8. Ramblin’ Man / Cannon / Ramblin’ Man / Cannon
  9. Icky Thump
  10. Missing Pieces
  11. Three Women
  12. Love Interruption
  13. Blunderbuss
  14. Top Yourself
  15. I’m Slowly Turning Into You
  16. Holiday in Cambodia (Dead Kennedys cover) (snippet)
  17. Ball and Biscuit


  1. Just One Drink
  2. Alone in My Home
  3. You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)
  4. Hello Operator
  5. Would You Fight for My Love?
  6. Broken Boy Soldier
  7. Blue Blood Blues
  8. Steady, As She Goes
  9. Seven Nation Army

What Twitter Thought

In Praise Of…Surf by Roddy Frame

Recently reissued by AED records for Record Store Day 2014, Roddy Frame’s 2002 album Surf is a slow- burning masterpiece that everyone should hear, argues Philip Cummins

“Majestic”: Surf by Roddy Frame.

…I’ve written an album about day-to-day life in London; about being 38 and wondering what you’re going to do next.

RODDY FRAME claimed the above in a 2002 interview with the Guardian’s Will Hodgkinson prior to the release of Surf, his second solo LP proper. Hodgkinson interviewed the then 38 year- old Frame, best known as the wunderkind behind Aztec Camera, in his Notting Hill flat where he wrote and recorded all the songs on Surf, his masterpiece.

Taken from atop Burwash House on Weston Street, London SE1, the cover photograph by Hannah Grace Deller (Frame’s then girlfriend), depicts the London skyline in all its twilight beauty. To my eyes, the picture captures London on a dreary Tuesday night in November.

In this photograph, as in Frame’s songs, life is going on in other places: the focus is very much on the switched- on lights in rooms across the city. In the context of the bare instrumentation on the songs collected on Surf- solely voice and acoustic guitar- Deller’s photograph, if anything, feels like a point of view shot from Frame’s mansion- block apartment.

Starting point

Surf opens with ‘Over You’, a finger- picked tune that conveys a rejected lover’s restlessness in the wake of a breakup. As mentioned in relation to the above quote from Frame, the album itself constantly gives a sense that life is continuing in other places across London in spite of the songwriter’s craft of focusing- in on frozen moments in time. No better an example than the line ‘heard you were out, SW3 / talking about how you were over me. Similarly, the song’s final couplet (Me stuck on the strand, trying to get through / And make myself understand that I’ve gotta get over you) provides the perfect starting place for the albums’ succeeding 10 tracks.

Surf‘s title track slows down the pace ever so slightly. Arpeggio’d chords and long vowels in the lyrics give a the sense of yearning that Frame’s lyrics convey.

Again, however, the focus is very much on London albeit viewing the city, now, through welled- up eyes (The east end squares’ve grown cold and loud / since I lived there with the twilight crowd / The west end lights have lost their wow).

Frame captures that sense of alienation in the city, of being a small fish in a huge pond and craving intimacy, beautifully in the chorus of ‘Surf’ (When I was young the radio played songs for me / it saved me).

‘Small World’, best known as the theme tune from hit BBC comedy series Early Doors, ends an opening trio of songs that nail the tone of the record, lifting the mood just slightly. Frame’s peppers Hopper- esque images of night-hawks in London town throughout the lyric and his voice is simply stunning on this song; his effortless falsetto blending beautifully with the verses, sung in lower octaves. Like ‘Tough’, ‘Small World’ was , perhaps, mooted as a possible single.

The centrepiece

‘I Can’t Stop Now’ is one of the most important songs on Surf and a song that is at the thematic core of the record. Serving as the breaking point of the tension built up in the record’s opening side, ‘I Can’t Stop Now’ is a good example of Frame’s ability to judge the timing of subtle changes in the dynamics of a song. One of the most cathartic and climactic lines in the song (’til the first tear falls) stands alone from the busy opening verses, giving that line more emphasis and more weight. Similarly, the key change in the final chorus is beautifully timed and renews the tone of the chorus; where the listener heard desolation and sorrow in the previous choruses, the listener now hears a tone of acceptance and defiance in the same chorus, two steps higher. It’s a stroke that only a singer and a songwriter of Frame’s talent and experience could pull off.


Throughout Surf, Frame wears his influences lightly, though obvious exceptions are…well, obvious. Paul Simon looms large on Surf. On ‘Abloom’, which also has qualities in the chord patterns and the finger- picking that recall Nick Drake, there is a hypnotic quality in the rhythm and harmony; there is a jazz-y feel to it. Simon, however, is also there in ‘High Class Music’, the title of which also carries Simon’s influence in its sardonic use of demotic language. The opening finger- picked phrases of each verse immediately recall Simon’s ‘The Boxer’. Add in a fast- paced abab rhyme scheme and Paul Simon’s influence in Frame’s writing is undeniable.

Furthermore, Simon is there again in ‘Mixed Up Love’, one of the stand- outs from Surf; the descending scale of the verse is quite similar to the intro to Simon’s ‘America’. ‘Mixed Up Love’ encapsulates everything that Frame claims about “…being 38 and wondering what you’re going to do next.” in his Guardian interview. The end of the chorus, just as in ‘I Can’t Stop N0w’, contains a wonderfully placed spoken line at the chorus’ end: you’d think that I’d know better now.

Finishing on ‘For What It Was’, Frame exudes the kind of simplicity and concise song-writing only found in country music. There’s a soulful, gospel quality to ‘For What It Was’, rich with spiritual imagery and Frame’s own confident, wry voice (And if the prophets knocked my door with all that heaven held in store, / I’d probably ask to see a sample).


Not since Paul Simon’s Hearts and Bones nor Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love  has there been an album by a singer- songwriter that has explored themes of love, heartbreak and identity as skilfully and masterfully as Roddy Frame has on Surf. It is hard to think of an LP from the last 10 – 15 years that is so masterfully crafted, so fully realised, so enviably achieved.

So has Surf been unfairly overlooked? Of course it has, though it’s easy to see why. In 2002, the music press was still feverishly high over the so- called new rock revolution, of which only Jack White emerged as a true, world-class, all time talent. The Strokes burned themselves out, the less said about the also- rans the better.

Coldplay, too, had just launched A Rush of Blood to the Head, their best record to date, which took them directly into the big leagues. Combined, Chris Martin and Co.’s world- beating aspirations and the distortion- heavy sounds from New York, LA and Detroit drowned out the fragile, modest tones of Frame’s Surf.

If it was Frame’s ambition to freeze 11 moments from London’s bustling, restless and constant metropolis, he succeeded admirably, capturing that sense of heartbreak, of loneliness and relentless self- examination like few songwriters before him. Surf is, quite simply, one of the most moving, spellbinding and memorable collection of songs I have heard in recent years.

Hitting the ReBoot button: Darklight returns after one year hiatus

Fifteen years since its first foray into Ireland’s arts festival scene, Darklight is back with a three-day programme celebrating independent creativity in digital media and film. Philip Cummins caught up with both festival director Nicky Gogan and Darklight board member / Le Cool Dublin publisher Michael McDermott to talk about the festival’s origins, those must see events in this year’s programme and Darklight’s most illustrious board member, director Lenny Abrahamson.

Darklight Reboot: The 2014 Darklight festival is ready to reboot.

Darklight ReBoot: The 2014 Darklight festival is ready to reboot.

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland on 8th April, 2014. To read the original, please click here.

Darklight has been a stalwart of the festival scene for fifteen years, so in a way it’s a survivor of the festival scene in Ireland, but it’s still also one of those ahead- of- the- curve festivals.

BUZZING with excitement at the launch of this year’s programme of events in Smithfield’s Block T- described as Darklight’s HQ for the festival’s duration- Le Cool Dublin publisher Michael McDermott, a fresh appointment to the board of Darklight, is keenly aware of how far both Darklight and the Irish film industry have traveled since the festival’s inception, fifteen years ago.

“Darklight started at a time in the late 90’s when people in Ireland didn’t yet fully understand what exactly “digital” meant. Here, in Smithfield, we’re just around the corner from Brown Bag Films, which, in 2014, is now one of the leading animation studios in Europe and a studio that employs 250 people. So I think that Darklight has shadowed and supported the growth of digital industries in Ireland in terms supporting creativity, technology and the intersection between technology and film. It’s always been one of the more experimental and ambitious festivals out there. We had a hiatus, last year, and the idea around the ‘Reboot’ element of this year’s festival is to engage with a new, young, fresh audience to maintain Darklight’s relevancy.”

And a reboot it is: this year’s edition of the festival certainly feels bigger, stronger and faster, anchored as it is in five of Smithfield’s cultural focal points: Smithfield Square, Block T, The Lighthouse cinema, The Generator hostel and Third Space café.

The programme, too, mixes the old and the new: Martin Scorsese’s 1990 classic Goodfellas receives a screening in the festival’s 100 seat Cinemobile on Smithfield Square, while more pioneering work, such as New Irish Experimental Docs, will also be screened in Darklight’s Cinemobile.

Darklight will screen Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas in the Darklight Cinemobile on Smithfield Square.

Darklight will screen Martin Scorsese’s 1990 classic Goodfellas in the Darklight Cinemobile on Smithfield Square.

Certainly, the genesis of the festival and its origins are fresh in the mind of Nicky Gogan, Artistic Director and co- founder of Darklight.

“My friend Susie and I founded the festival in ’99 and it started out as a digital festival at a time when we were paying attention to what festivals like Resfest and Onedotzero in London were doing. Eventually, we thought “Why can’t we do that over here?

“The focus of the festival is different every year: sometimes it’s more U.S. focused, other years the work that we feature is more European focused. It really depends on what exciting creative events are happening around the world, which cities are blossoming with new and exciting work that features the intersection between gallery work and feature work.

“The central points of the festival, though, are Digital Storytelling and What’s Up Doc. Discussing the ideas and the medium is just as important as what’s up on the screen, so there will be two roundtables on the Friday and the Saturday that are free. All the filmmakers that will be in Smithfield during the festival will take part.”

Of course, that intersection between experimental gallery work and feature films couldn’t come at a better time; this year, 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen, who won the Turner Prize in 1999, netted this year’s Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards, sealing his reputation as one of the most exciting feature filmmakers in the current era.

“Absolutely”, agrees McDermott. “And I think another good example of that transition in this year’s programme is Forsyth & Pollard, Darklight 2014’s Artists in Focus. Forsyth & Pollard started out in the experimental, installation sphere and have now crossed over into feature work. They directed 20,000 Days on Earth, the Nick Cave documentary that premiered, recently, at Sundance.

“I think that the value of installation work is more appreciated, now, in terms of the aesthetics and the ideas that installation work can bring to feature films. So Darklight, I think, is great at blurring boundaries between those two spheres of film and creativity. I also think that by the time cinema- going audiences see 20,000 Days on Earth in late summer / autumn of this year, you’ll be reading about the Nick Cave documentary in The Irish Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times. Darklight has Forsyth & Pollard discussing 20,000 Days on Earth and showing excerpts from 20,000 Days on Earth several months before the mainstream media, so in that sense the festival is, again, ahead of the curve.”

Closer to home, of course, is director Lenny Abrahamson, who through Garage, What Richard Did and the upcoming Frank has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting filmmakers to emerge from these shores for quite some time. The Dubliner is also on the board of Darklight and Gogan’s praise of the What Richard Did director couldn’t be higher.

Frank director Lenny Abrahamson is a member of Darklight's board.

Lenny Abrahamson, director of Frank (above) is a member of Darklight’s board.

“Lenny’s just a really creative and generous man. He’s a great touchstone when it comes to programming, but he also has an international focus towards discovering new film. He’s always travelling with his work and he’s always discovering new films and new filmmakers. From a programming perspective, he’s great and he’s the only active film maker on the board. Crucially, he’s also very industry focused, so he has a great balance between the international outlook and creative side of the festival, but he also has a focus on the Irish industry side of it.”

Despite Lenny Abrahamson’s continued success in the medium, many young, aspiring filmmakers have, no doubt, been forced to leave our shores in search of opportunities abroad, impacting on the amount of home-grown talent in the Irish film industry. Despite these realities, Gogan is optimistic for the future of Irish filmmaking.

“During Darklight 2012, we showed exclusively Irish films – milestones in terms of the DIY nature of the films. We showed no films that had a logo attached. It was amazing to see the amount of collectives, the amount of groups that are coming together to make films in a DIY, home-grown fashion. Now, two years on, a lot of those filmmakers have garnered awards and acclaim, so that’s great; it’s great that there’s still a strong, grass-roots of filmmakers growing and blossoming.

“Obviously, emigration has meant that a lot of young, fresh, talented filmmakers are leaving the island. It’s terribly sad and upsetting and there could very well be a lost generation of filmmakers. But I was part of that too: during the early – mid 90’s, I went to the U.S. and it was a great experience. My hope is that those who leave will learn new skills, work in different areas and then come home and apply all of those skills and experience that they’ve learned abroad. It’s important to keep that youthful energy in the industry.

“I’m very much a glass half-full person, so I think the future is bright for the industry and bright for Darklight.”

Darklight runs from 24 April – 27 April in Smithfield. For the full programme of events, visit For tickets, visit

Interview: David Holmes, DJ, Producer, Composer

Hanging out as a teen in Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations record store, scoring soundtracks for Soderbergh, including Rodriguez’s ‘Sugar Man’ on a 2002 mix tape compilation ten years before the Oscar-winning ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ documentary…Belfast DJ, composer and producer David Holmes’ musical odyssey has been nothing short of fascinating. With UNLOVED, a new project featuring Keefus Green and Jade Vincent, Holmes’ restless creative mind shows no sign of slowing down. Philip Cummins spoke to Holmes about UNLOVED, blending music with film and the magical experience offered by record shops and vinyl records.

"I think that when you're a kid, you can't explain why you love certain kinds of things; you just respond to the music." David Holmes, DJ, Producer, Composer.

“I think that when you’re a kid, you can’t explain why you love certain kinds of things; you just respond to the music.” David Holmes, DJ, Producer, Composer.

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland, 4th April, 2014. To read the original, click here.

Philip Cummins: What are the origins of the strong relationship between film and music in your work?

David Holmes: I’ve no idea! It was never contrived, I know that much. I never sat down and thought “I want to work with the moving image.” When I grew up in Belfast during the 70’s I wasn’t allowed out on the streets. I ended up consuming so many movies. Growing up in the age of the VHS and the betamax generation…Belfast was just crazy back then. At nighttime, when things were getting really hairy on the streets, I just wasn’t allowed out; my mother would say to me “you’re not going out tonight”. My family home was bombed by Loyalist paramilitaries when I was four years old. We lived on the Ormeau Road, which, of course, is a really mixed area. I loved growing up in Belfast, but I did spend a lot of time watching movies to get away from the night- time realities of where I lived.

But I also used to listen to a lot of movie soundtracks because I enjoyed them. When I was working as a DJ in Belfast, I’d often slip in a bit of Once Upon a Time in America, a bit of Midnight Cowboy. Records like Midnight Cowboy I inherited from my Mum. I was the youngest of ten, so records would trickle their way down to me. I inherited punk rock because my siblings were into The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Stooges, so those records were just there for me to discover and I was into soundtracks long before I started producing. When I started producing I was always aware of trying to create something unique within the world of dance music and not trying to be the derivative of the derivative. Soundtracks were a way of trying to do something new with dance music. I used to drop in soundtracks on top of electronic sounds- like the harmonica arrangement on Midnight Cowboy, for example.

And did Good Vibrations, named by Observer film critic Mark Kermode as the best film of 2013, which you scored and produced, give you a sense of that mixture between your 70’s childhood in Belfast and the songs that inspired you?

Good Vibrations was something that I grew up with. The Outcasts I knew through my brothers and I used to see them about all the time. They were my idols at the time when I was 8 years old. I’d see them on the Ormeau Road in their biker jackets and their DM’s. I just thought that they looked so cool. I’d been going down to Terri Hooley’s shop since I was 11. I used to go down on the bus and harass Terri for music and he actually gave me more music than I’d ever paid for. The other turning point for me, though, was when I saw Quadrophenia at 15. The whole mob movement of it all was something that really inspired me. And through that I got into music that I could be apart of : 60’s soul, rhythm and blues, Northern Soul.

Terri once gave me a box of 7 inches that were signed by Lee Dorsey. The first cut of ‘Ride Your Pony’ was in there and Terri gave me that when I was 15; ‘Last Night’ By The Marquees was in there; ‘La La La La La’ by The Blendells; Ray Barretto…all these rare, original 60’s R&B 7 inch records.

Would Terri have recommended you Rodriguez? You included Rodriguez’s ‘Sugar Man’ on a 2002 mix tape / compilation, entitled Come Get It I Got It, ten years before the Searching for Sugar Man documentary…

No, I’ll tell you; I discovered Rodriquez completely by accident in a record store in New York. I was browsing and I came across ‘Cold Fact’. I was intrigued. The owner of the record store played the first track and said “check this out.” He played ‘Sugar Man’ and I thought “Wow…I’m havin’ this!”

You talk about how important it was inheriting records from your siblings; how important Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations record store was to you; how you discovered Rodriguez. Do you think that downloading and the culture of online listening has taken the magic out of discovering new music?

Totally. I’ll tell you, though, there’s an amazing new record shop called Sick Records in Belfast and it’s fucking class. The main objective of the shop is just stock really great records. Every time I go in there I end up spending over 100 quid. They’ve got loads of really great new releases, compilations…it’s just fucking brilliant.

Good Vibrations still exists, of course, but it’s more of a tourist attraction, now. Terri sells what sells and it’s mostly second hand stuff…it’s more commercial. It’s been a while since there’s been a shop like Sick in Belfast; a shop where new records are just flying out the door. The guy behind is astounded by how successful it’s been.

I think that when you’re a kid, you can’t explain why you love certain kinds of things; you just respond to the music. I think a lot of kids, now, are responding to music by buying vinyl and I do think vinyl is turning a corner that no- one expected. Kids are getting back into vinyl, big time. They’re saying “this MP3 stuff is just rubbish and it’s not good enough”: I want a physical object that’s tangible, I want to see the artwork, the sleeve notes.”

I’m in London at least once a month and I’d often go down to Rough Trade East and to other record shops that I like to visit and I check out new release, things that I’ve just discovered and things that I’ve just read about rather than just buying it online. And you forget that buying records isn’t just about the records: it’s about going down, seeing other people, talking to the fella behind the counter…there’s a whole social component to it that’s just magical. I thought that that had gone, but it’s still brilliant to have it back. I’ve been playing a lot more vinyl, now. We all get caught up in the digital revolution; it’s hard not to. Don’t get me wrong; there’s certain things that digital does well. If you’ve got an iPod, you’ve got your record collection with you on the move and digital is great for making playlists. But if you have a vinyl record in your hand and you put that record on, you realise that you listen to music in a completely different way. It sounds different, it feels different and the act of putting the record on…it feels like a ceremony, almost. So it’s great to have a new, exciting record shop back in Belfast and the guy’s taste is fantastic, which is paramount to opening up a record shop.

Can I ask you about working with Keefus and about how you guys got UNLOVED, your latest project, up and running?

Keefus is a just a really good friend of mine. Without sounding like a dickhead, we’re really good friends on a spiritual level. I met him when I lived in LA for 18 months and we just started making records together. His partner, Jade Vincent, who’s also involved in UNLOVED, has laid down vocals and it really just came together very organically. Keefus is coming over to Belfast for the whole month of May and that month is going to be spent working really hard- every day, without fail- on writing for the different projects that we’re working on: animation movies, feature length, short movies. In fact, I’ve just directed a short movie with Liam Cunningham, Michelle Fairley and David Wilmot. It’s a very, very personal film. It’s funny; it’s very hard to score a movie when the director falls in love with the temp music- I’ve slagged directors off about it in the past. It’s a really common thing. I’ve just directed a film…and I’ve fallen in love with the temp music! And the worst part is that none of it is mine!

UNLOVED, David Holmes’ new project with Jade Vincent and Keefus Green, play Kilkenny’s Set Theatre on Saturday 19 April for a 10pm show.


Live Review: Franz Ferdinand @ The Olympia Theatre, Dublin

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland on 24 March, 2014. To read the original, please click here

Franz Ferdinand on flying form in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre

TEN YEARS ON since THAT debut, Franz Ferdinand are not the Young Turks they were when they burst onto the scene in 2004: in 2014, Franz Ferdinand are not the trendiest name to drop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, nor London’s Brick Lane.

What Franz Ferdinand are- and how easily we can take Glasgow’s finest for granted- are a band brimming with tight tunes: structurally solid songs with more muscular riffs, pulsating rhythms, sing-along choruses and witty lyrics than at which you can shake an irony- laden t-shirt.

Opening with ‘Bullet’, the opening song of the second side of 2013’s return- to- form Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, following 2009’s misstep Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, Kapronos and Co. immediately follow ‘Bullet’ with two cuts from Franz Ferdinand– ‘The Dark of the Matinée’ and ‘Tell Her Tonight’- before returning to Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action territory with standout single ‘Evil Eye’. The opening four tunes, quite rightly, align their 2004 debut with their latest effort, both albums being two sides of the same coin.

Indeed, the Domino Recording Company band draw eight songs from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, six from Franz Ferdinand, and four each from You Could Have It So Much Better and Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.

What the band demonstrates best at tonight’s sold out show, however, is their intuitive understanding of dynamics. The opening stompers are soon followed by tender ballads ‘Fresh Strawberries’ (Right Thoughts…) and ‘Walk Away’ (You Could Have It So Much Better), confidently omitting ‘Eleanor Put Your Boots On’, their gorgeous 2006 single, stressing the sheer range of their song- writing.

Better still, the band eschew insincere banter with the audience, instead milking the hooks, phrases and middle eights of standout songs with no small amount of sardonic showbiz schmaltz. The opening phrase to ‘Take Me Out’ is played to galleries for well over half a minute, the breaks in the ending hook of a rapturously received ‘Do You Want To’ are repeated at almost a dozen times than the recorded version and the slow- tempo verses of ‘The Dark of the Matinée’ are stressed to give that song’s barnstorming chorus more punch and vigour.

The most telling moment of tonight’s gig, however, comes during the preamble to ‘Fresh Strawberries’, a self- deprecating, tender tune from Right Thoughts… that chronicles the fall from grace of a once thriving mid- noughties band. Dedicating ‘Fresh Strawberries’ to tonight’s support act, Leeds quintet Eagulls, Kapranos sings the opening verse of We are fresh strawberries / Fresh burst of red strawberries / Ripe, turning riper in the bowl / We will soon be rotten / We will all be forgotten / Half remembered rumours of the old.

Of course, no- one here, tonight, really believes that Franz Ferdinand are noughties survivors; rather, I expect they believe that the Glaswegian lads done good have still got the right tunes, right moves and are hitting all the right notes.