concert review: Franz Ferdinand, Born Ruffians @ Kool Haus (Toronto, Ontario) - May 4, 2009
As they did back in December of last year at Franz Ferdinand's highly sought after club gig at Lee's Palace, Toronto's Born Ruffians opened the show at Kool Haus this past Monday night. My only other time seeing Born Ruffians live was on the second stage at Virgin Festival in 2006 who I'd remember being decent although perhaps the sizable stage being a little inappropriate for the band who were a trio at the time. This time a four-piece with new drummer Ahmed Gallab, it was an energetic set of their chirpy pop-rock, echoing bits of Talking Heads and perhaps a little Vampire Weekend. But if Vampire Weekend somewhat wear out their welcome over time(and this is definitely a matter of personal opinion), Born Ruffians are infectiously fun. Their 'hit' 'Hummingbird' garnered the loudest response from fans in the audience who were in the know, but with the band (and bassist Mitch DeRosier in particular) encouraging bouts of audience handclaps during the set, it seems they converted more than a few new fans.
It was at the same venue back in 2004 that I'd last seen Franz Ferdinand live at the advent of their self-titled debut. I'd for the most part ignored their second album "You Could Have It So Much Better" for no particular reason and have yet to listen to their most recent album "Tonight:Franz Ferdinand" but here I was , at an all-ages show mind you, with high expectations of a grand rock n' roll show. And that's exactly what we got. With a video backdrop of various images and video (the most interesting being video of the band themselves being projected on the screen behind them), they showcased their infectious brand of danceable, sometimes incendiary rock n' roll. While lead vocalist Alex Kapranos and band are one of the most dapper-looking bands today, they created an intensely exciting vibe on stage (something that's perhaps a little muted on record). Mr. Kapranos in particular pulled out some guitar poses and combined with his alternately suave and emphatic vocals, he's one of the most exciting frontmans today. He also displayed a good sense of humour when someone from the audience handed him a wishlist of songs they'd play during the set and he read an excerpt of the list which included a request to play the first album in its entirety. There was something quite badass (even though they're quite wholesome looking lads) when guitarist/keyboardist Nicholas McCarthy hobbled out on stage in crutches, then later on Alex had to apply a bag of ice to his sore hand in between songs. Whatever were the specific reasons for their maladies I never found out, but I appreciated that they honoured the whole "the show must go on" sentiment. The audience was deeply involved in the set, whether it be singing, clapping or dancing, and Alex during one song led us into a thoroughly fun call and response singalong. The sentiment of the evening was perhaps best illustrated during the encore with their song 'This Fire', the chorus which goes "This fire is out of control, I'm going to burn this city, Burn this city". They definitely killed it that night.
Photos: Franz Ferdinand, Born Ruffians @ Kool Haus (May 4, 2009)
More favourable reviews of the show over at MuchMusic and Impressionable Youth (who also has a few video clips from the show). Eye Weekly were a little more critical about the show.
MySpace: Born Ruffians
MySpace: Franz Ferdinand