During August Edinburgh usually gives up its streets, theatres, bars and restaurants to Fringe and Festival goers and the locals spend most of the month feeling frustrated and sidelined. However there is usually one night where this hospitality is secondary to their own pleasures instigated by an event that feels like it is more for them than the tourists.
Last night that night for August 2015 was provided by the Sparks/Franz Ferdinand hybrid, or more succinctly FFS, at the Festival Theatre where the denizens of Edinburgh congregated en masse for a totally mind-blowing concert of legendary proportions which everyone attending will remember forever.
From the opening chords of ‘Johnny Delusional’ it was clear that this was going to be a concert like no other. Two of rock music’s great front-men, Russell Mael and Alex Kapranos, sharing a stage and vocal duties is a nigh on impossible task to pull off. However FFS not only managed it they made it seem like it was the most natural thing in the world.
As if this wasn’t enough of a charisma overload, Ron Mael and Nick McCarthy are charismatic secondary visual foils in their own right; Ron’s manic stare and detached aloofness has served him well since his Top Of The Pops debut in 1974 whilst McCarthy has his own means of keeping an audience entertained without ever detracting or trying to upstage from the front-men or relapsing into the legs splayed, hair shaking contrived and clichéd routine so many other guitarists mistakenly think is de rigueur.
The solid rhythm section of the exuberant Paul Thomson and the reluctant, limelight shunning Bob Hardy keep the whole thing centred and provide a backbone with flourishes where necessary.
The set list was also faultless. Obviously drawing on the FFS album, new favourites such as ‘Man Without a Tan’, ‘Little Guy From the Suburbs’, ‘Call Girl’, ‘Things I Won’t Get’, ‘The Power Couple’ and ‘Piss Off’ sat more than comfortably alongside Franz favourites such as ‘Take Me Out’. ‘Michael’, ‘Do You Want To’ and Sparks classics like ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’-wherein Russell proved his voice is still everything it once was- and ‘When Do I Get to Sing My Way’.
Highlight of the whole night though had to be an absolutely raucously storming version of ‘Number One Song in Heaven’ which saw the crowd explode, the roof almost lift off the theatre and Ron leave his keyboards to dance along.
An impressive set was followed by an equally impressive encore which concluded with ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ despite having just proved that they do.
I doubt that anyone who was in the Festival Theatre will see a better gig than that this year. The sound was flawless; the material excellent; the performances could not be bettered; the fun that everyone-crowd and performers- was having was totally immeasurable. If you weren’t there then FFS what were you thinking?