Just finished reading the ‘Franz Ferdinand and the Pop Renaissance’ by Hamilton Harvey, which is strange because I’m not an FF fan at all. It’s an odd book with three main strands to it. The first (as the title would suggest) focusses on Franz Ferdinand but given that the book was published before they had recorded their second album, all it really tells is the story of their meteoric rise.
The second strand is a brief history of Scottish/Glaswegian popular music and it’s interesting to reflect that my knowledge of pre-punk Scottish musical history is extremely limited. Also too that my knowledge of the Glasgow scene in the early part of the 21st century is equally deficient.
The final strand is a series of interviews with individuals connected with the Glasgow music and arts scene in the mid Noughties. The most interesting, with Brendan O’Hare, closes the book whilst the briefest, with Andy Miller, could certainly have been amongst the more interesting had it been longer. Almost exclusively, FF are tangential to most of the interviews and whilst everyone seems to like them as people, no-one confesses to being a fan!
I’m not sure if Hamilton really wanted to write a non FF Book but didn’t get the commission to do that on its own. Which would explain the odd hybrid that this became. The FF story too is told out of sequence and without any real resolution which just adds to the confusion.
Within its pages though is mention of an Interpol/Franz Ferdinand gig at the Liquid Room in Edinburgh as part of T on the Fringe on 24th August 2003. here’s what I said at the time.
“Perhaps this shouldn’t have been the revelation that it was. But, despite loving ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ I actually had concerns that Interpol might just be a little too serious live. Totally wrong.
The one thing that shone through at this gig was the personality of the band. Carlos of course with his slightly camp posturing and posing is the main visual attraction but it was clear that everyone else was simply thriving on playing in front of an audience and that really lifted what would have otherwise been a fine gig into the stratosphere.
So there wasn’t much else other than ‘TOTBL’, but then when the material’s so good why would that be a problem?
The record of course is so strong and well produced there might have been a fear that this would be result in ramshackle versions of the songs but that wasn’t the case. These guys can play and all you got was a superb dose of excitement over and above the songs themselves.
Highlights? All the expected ones, PDA, NYC, Obstacle 1, Roland and Leif Erickson in no particular order. The one song I didn’t know (four in- C’mere – September 2004 note) was terrific too, perhaps a lighter, more poppier song than normal which nevertheless retained that distinctive Interpol touch.
The downside? Probably just the finale to the encore. With just two songs left to choose from, The New would win for me over Obstacle 2 anytime but we got the latter.
And what is it with kids today? The band had received a rapturous reception all through but even before the house lights have come up people start drifting away like there’s no chance of another song. I mean, maybe not but surely it’s worth trying?
Forget the 80s comparisons – Interpol are very much a band of the present regardless of their influences. See them live, buy all their records – make these guys stars.”
Boy, how I regret that last phrase. Because if anything went wrong with Interpol it was that they wanted to become stars. Mind you, I think that was no latter day revelation – they always wanted that.
Note – no reference to the Franz support slot that night. Which is a bit odd because I do recall quite clearly what I thought about them.
I’d actually never heard of them at that point (although Harvey’s book does suggest that their career trajectory was well on its upward curve by then.) ‘Darts of Pleasure’ was their imminent debut release and they were almost a rent a support act at that year’s T on the Fringe as Kapranos referred to a show with Hot Hot Heat the previous week.
As to what they were like, I clearly remember being torn between enjoying them and being thoroughly irritated by them. I was irritated not just by some of the music but also McCarthy’s unrelenting chirpiness and Hardy’s sweater. Um, quite.
I’ve never really changed my mind on them since – I do quite like some of their stuff but on the other hand they’ve produced such drivel as ‘Do You Want To’. No, thanks.
All of which combines to make this post as weird a hybrid as the 5 year old book I started off with. Guess I’ll maybe better listen to some music.