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Electric Castle review: Have Franz Ferdinand still got it?

If any of you saw this post three months ago, you’ll know that I have just arrived back in the UK following a five night extravaganza at one of Romania’s biggest and best festivals, Electric Castle. You may also know that as well as being treated to a massive amount of world class DJs and acts, the band I was most looking forward to seeing was, you guessed it, Franz Ferdinand.

Although I’m going to make you wait a few days to hear ALL about the festival and just how incredible it was (it really did surpass any expectation that I had) I’m going to tell you about Franz Ferdinand and the first show I had seen them play in four years.

Sadly, I wasn’t as fresh as I would have hoped, having spent the previous four days and nights partying and sleeping in a tent that had earth shattering bass streaming through it 24 hours a day. But there was no way I was going to let this deter me and before I knew it, I was being ushered into the photo pit in front of the main stage, along with fellow photo pass holders, each brandishing enviable equipment. The stage lit up, a colourful Franz Ferdinand logo adorned with shooting stars, the band energetically ran on stage and as the music began, us photographers danced around each other, moving up and down, side to side, effortlessly managing not to bump into each other.

After the three-song limit, we were thrust back into the crowd, and I spent the rest of the set dancing to songs I have been singing along to in front of the band for the last thirteen years. Earlier in the week I dismissed new members Dino Bardot (guitar) and Julian Corrie (keys, vocals and guitar) without even giving them a chance. To me, Nick McCarthy was an integral member in the band, his unmistakable high tones and jagged rhythm guitar enjoyable every step of the way.

Questioning my stubbornness (is it because I don’t like change, perhaps?) I realised that I can’t deny that Bardot and Corrie really did prove to be a good replacement for McCarthy. And looking at the outfits and lighting during the show, I wondered whether the fact that Bob Hardy, dressed in all black, hiding away in the shadows, whilst Bardot and Corrie wore loud shirts and danced around in the spotlight, was a deliberate attempt to show that this band is not about to give up and that they really are just as good without one of their founding members.

Franz Ferdinand clearly has longevity. Since forming in 2002, the band has recorded four studio albums; the first two released in consecutive years, but with four year breaks between the third and fourth. The fact that ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ was released in 2013 makes me excited at what is potentially to come this year. Not many other bands that I obsessed over as an excitable teen are still around today and none are still able to headline festivals all across the world.

But despite enjoying a sing along with thousands of other revellers, my negative mind just wouldn’t pipe down. As Kapranos drawled the lyrics “let it go” in his soft Scottish lilt during new song ‘Always Ascending’, I thought to myself that maybe I should finally let this band go. Since I first saw them opening the NME tour when I was a fresh-eyed seventeen year old, they have been firmly in the number 1 spot on my favourite band list. But despite enjoying the show, I just didn’t feel the same. Was it that they didn’t have the same presence on a big festival stage as they did in the small intimate venues I’m used to seeing them in? Or could it be that the band isn’t as accessible to me as they once were? I don’t know, but as these thoughts travelled through my head, the song changed pace, becoming more like one of my ultimate favourite Franz songs ‘Van Tango’ with each chord and drum smash. It was almost brilliant and I thought perhaps they could draw me back in again. I’m unsure, but I’ll await their new album with open-minded patience.

As is usual with every time I have seen Franz Ferdinand play over the last few years, they ended with crescendo building ‘This Fire’ and before we knew it, they were gone. Months of waiting for a solitary hour. And an hour that left me questioning what is next for me musically. Will I ever feel that way about a band again? Are the feelings you feel for the first band you ever truly obsess over, the same as that of a first love? Who the heck knows, but it has made me determined to watch more and listen to more new music, as I’m sure that diamond in the rough is out there somewhere.

Head to the Electric Castle website for more info on the festival

All photos taken by Sarah Kemp, Editor, Life’s Loves


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Festival Review – Electric Castle, Romania | Life's Loves

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