A vital show from a group refusing to be overtaken by their past...

When Franz Ferdinand came charging out of Glasgow with their gilded debut album they felt like the four horsemen of the indie apocalypse, their glitter-daubed steeds leaping effortlessly over the barricades placed in front of them.

Pretty soon wry quips about chatting to Terry Wogan became actual IRL events, with the band’s witty post-punk flavoured pop bangers winning an international audience.

That was then, though, and this is now. Co-conspirator Nick McCarthy left the fold last year, and it’s a re-vamped line up which takes to the stage in London’s Brixton Academy, a matter of days after the release of new album ‘Always Ascending’.

Not that we should have worried. Plunging into the title cut of their new album it’s vividly obvious that Franz Ferdinand retain the essential magic that made them so effortlessly charming first time round, an impish yet glamorous charm half-inched from Sparks, XTC, even ABBA but re-tooled through their art school gait.

Bounding across the stage, Alex Kapranos’ scissor-kick leap bulldozes through ‘The Dark Of The Matinee’ before the band hurl themselves into a sing-along ‘No You Girls’. Clearly relishing every moment, Franz Ferdinand drop in a few new tracks, with material from ‘Always Ascending’ – their first in five years, lest we forget – slotting in effortlessly.

Toying, teasing, playing with the crowd, Franz Ferdinand hurtle across the mid-set lull by throwing in a balladic ‘Walk Away’ and that plaintive opening segment of first album gem ‘Jacqueline’ – before Bob Thompson thumps down that instantly recognisable bassline and the venue erupts, the jagged Gang Of Four style riffing hurtling out of the speakers.

Bowing out with ‘Ulysses’, the snappy, 14 song set is followed by an intriguing encore, one that largely focuses on the new album. Continually re-asserting their own validity as a creative entity, Franz Ferdinand feel vital, refusing to allow their catalogue to overtake them in the manner that has sadly happened to many of their 2002 peers.

That said, the odd moment of nostalgia certainly isn’t amiss: ending with ‘This Fire’, it’s a noisy, caustic, feedback-driven update, a nasty yet helplessly stylish sound that hints at vital chapters ahead.

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Photography: Rachel Lipsitz

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