In the Dark of the Matinée: Franz Ferdinand at The Burton Cummings Theatre


My vindication has been three years in the making. Ever since I first missed out on tickets for Franz Ferdinand in 2006 (aka the Franz Ferdinand-Death Cab For Cutie Debacle – for further details read here), I’ve been bitter. Well, the bitterness has dissipated somewhat over the years (after all, Franz Ferdinand aren’t the Manics or IAMX), but when I heard the foot-stomping Glaswegians were coming back to Winnipeg, to the same theatre, this fall, I made sure I had a ticket. And thanks to my newly acquired skills of online ticket buying (including making sure I was actually at my computer at 10:00AM when the tickets went on sale and didn’t keep hitting refresh rather than wait), I managed a sixth row floor ticket. Not too shabby. However, being the ungrateful human that I am, when I actually settled down into my sixth row centre seat, I started working out the logistics of getting to the stage before Franz Ferdinand played. It wasn’t looking so hot, especially since I was hemmed in on both sides while the first two rows had much more immediate access to the small floor space in front of the stage. I remember having leaped over two rows of seating for Muse a few years back, but no longer am I as spry and vaulting five rows seemed impossible…without a pole anyway. I, then, hit upon a rather simple, but possibly effective strategy: get up there during the opening band (which happened to be the excellent Montreal band Think About Life – highly recommended).

Before you point out how mentally deficient I am, I will explain why this may not have worked. In the past, security has shunted people back to their seats after an opener played (I remember this happened for The Arcade Fire – although I managed to perform my invisibility spell through my mad ninja skills and never went back to my seat like others did). And if they did decide to send people back, this whole strategem would seem in vain. However, I took a gamble and joined the very small crowd at the front during Think About Life’s last song (their set was criminally short). The gamble paid off as soon after, security closed off the “pit” with me right against the floor amp. Still being rather ungrateful, I realized I had placed myself next to some of the most irritating girls in the world (one of whom couldn’t stop looking at her own reflection in her compact and kept arguing with security when she wanted to sit on the amp). Fate was still on my side as a security guard muscled into position right against the stage and forced those girls back, well behind me. And then, at about 9:15PM the show commenced…

A show, indeed. Admittedly, over the past few years, I’ve become less excited about Kapranos and Co. – the second album just didn’t do much for me apart from Do You Want To?, and while I’ve been enjoying their latest, Tonight, I wasn’t sure if I would still be a bit disappointed (granted, I hadn’t quite listened to Tonight enough to make a firm opinion). As I often am, I was proven wrong. Loudly. The best word to describe the show was unrelenting. There was absolutely no break for the audience or the band – the closest was when they played the arguably slower song Walk Away. The rest was a cardiac-arrest-inducing-dance-rock fusion that didn’t let up for an hour and a half.


Against a backdrop of the band’s stylized heads, which were consistent with their website aesthetic, they began the show with Bite Hard before quickly moving into one of my favourites, The Dark of the Matinée. With the alacrity of the music during the chorus, it really seemed as though we were hastily being dragged through endless corridors and factories, and the one-time movie theatre we were witnessing this show in made the song all the more present. It could have been partially because I was on the floor for the first time in quite some time, or the fact that all of Franz Ferdinand’s best songs are fast, or that the entire sold-out theatre was clearly up for it, but I was definitely the most winded and bashed up I’ve been at a show for this year. As per usual, my flailing knees made contact with the amp, producing nasty bruises, and I was a euphoric sweaty mess by the end of it. The set was pretty heavy on their debut album’s songs, which I was very happy about, and featured older favourites like This Fire, Tell Her Tonight, 40′, and Take Me Out. Perhaps Franz Ferdinand realized that their sophomore album just wasn’t as good as the other two. I remember one particular moment where I realized I was actually witnessing a live version of Take Me Out and it felt like I and the rest of the crowd were jumping in synchronized slow motion. In addition to Bite Hard, they also played No You Girls, What She Came For and Ulysses from the latest album. No You Girls is another one of those trademark Franz Ferdinand songs built for dance parties, and it got the audience frenzied.

Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy were at the forefront, as is the norm, the former often stretching out his arms like a plaid-clad messiah, involving the audience in numerous call-and-answers and commanding the audience to “rise,” and the latter often stepping out onto the amp in front of me with his stylish white shoes, swinging his guitar in sharp, high arcs from side to side, and shredding his guitar in the audience’s faces. They often met each other at centrestage or back at the face-to-face synthesizers; they also took turns climbing the amp stacks. At one point at the end of the show proper, during Outsiders, the entire band converged around the drumkit and picked up sticks and other percussion instruments to create a rhythmic fury. The trio of Ulysses, 40′ and Outsiders was a fantastic ride of alternating slow-burning-churning funk and sharp guitar riffs. And through it all, the acoustics were great from my vantage point, hearing every low, laconic, crooned note from Kapranos. And once again, there was a stage-stormer, a girl who leapt on stage and hugged Kapranos before jumping back into the pit (let’s hope she didn’t get a papercut).

Kapranos and McCarthy

The five-song encore, including Darts of Pleasure, Turn It On, Michael, Jacqueline, and Lucid Dreams, was one of the longest I’ve ever heard from anyone. I really enjoyed the ten-minute-plus jam of Lucid Dreams, fully appreciating the meandering interlude of synthesizers and drum machines, which made McCarthy and Kapranos, who were intently hunched over their respective keyboards, look like a Scottish Kraftwerk. The constant shift in melody and rhythm kept me slightly off-balance and sometimes in a droning trance. And to end proceedings, the band did their standard exit strategy for the tour, meaning each member drops out of Lucid Dreams and leaves one by one. At least it seemed standard until Nick McCarthy decided to leap stage right, gingerly stepping from amp stack to amp stack before neatly scaling the wall and hauling himself over the second-storey side balcony. It was a memorable moment, and thankfully not a catastrophic one (I believe I would have been in his direct flight path if he fell).

As with many bands I’ve seen in concert, Franz Ferdinand is best consumed live. My excitement has waned over listening to the actual albums over the years, but when they perform them live, there’s a whole new energy and freshness to these songs. I could feel every jab of angular guitar like a shot of adrenaline and let the heart-jarring vibrations of grooving bass and synths saw through me just as Kapranos allowed the buzz to shake him in one full-body-vibrating moment on stage. This gig reminded me how much I actually do enjoy Franz Ferdinand and their down-to-earth abandon and democratic hedonism. And when Kapranos mentioned the fact they had been in this theatre in Winnipeg three years ago, I didn’t even wince.

The Dark of the Matinée – Franz Ferdinand

Lucid Dreams – Franz Ferdinand


3 Responses to “In the Dark of the Matinée: Franz Ferdinand at The Burton Cummings Theatre”

  1. September 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    The rest was a cardiac-arrest-inducing-dance-rock fusion that didn’t let up for an hour and a half.

    that is such a perfect way to describe their shows. I.love.them.

  2. 2 Rol
    September 10, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Cool review. I really must pick up that third album.

  3. September 10, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Rol, do it now!!! it’s so good, I couldn’t stop listening to it for like a month. er, 5, actually.

    I should spin it now.

    PS I love it when I cross paths with people I “know” on the internet. haha, it’s cool to see that our tastes lead us to similar blogs.

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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