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FRANZ FERDINAND, Graham Coxon, The Kaiser Chiefs
Albert Hall, London 5 April 2005

Think indie gigs and you think dirty toilet venues with a puddle of Carling, cigarette ends, and piss on the floor. You don’t usually think of the Royal Albert Hall. Unless you’re thinking of rock royalty, that is, and tonight we witnessed the crème de la crème of British commercial indie scene – The king, Graham Coxon, sits on his Brit Pop throne surveying last year’s Glaswegian paupers turn Art-School princes and tonight’s headliners, Franz Ferdinand, along with this year’s newest pretenders, Kaiser Chiefs.

That much musical talent is hard on one night without forking out £125 and being prepared to wade through mud up to your knees, but tonight they were gathered in SW7’s swankiest concert hall for Roger Daltrey’s (of the Who) annual night of musical mayhem in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The night opened with Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs. Opening with ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’ the latest single from their debut album, “Employment”, and a set-list that included favourites like ‘I Predict a Riot’ and ‘Oh My God’, the Kaisers proved that they can put on an amazing show. Front-man Ricky Wilson impressed with his chaotic dancing, energetic leaps and a body that shook almost as much as his tambourine. Although originally I had taken a dislike to the band for their punkster and by-numbers attitude to Brit Pop, and they may still dress like the local public school boys who still snigger at the word “sex”, I found myself singing along to the ridiculously catchy and repetitive tracks, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it – understanding for the first time why everyone from the NME to FHM is raving about this 5-piece from Up North.

After a brief interlude where we were told how the eradication of Teen Cancer was a realistic objective, generally depressed and reminded this was a charity event so could we please reach deep into our pockets at the end, it was time for Brit Pop legend Graham Coxon.

Despite being the Kaisers’ idol, Coxon’s set couldn’t have been more different to theirs. From the opener ‘Spectacular’ from his LP “Happiness in Magazines” to the crowd pleasing ‘Freakin’ Out’, Coxon proved that he is the undisputed king of perfectly played guitar solos, each played tenderly, yet with an anarchistic passion that forced the audience to change emotions as frequently as the former guitarist with Blur changed guitars.

The Albert Hall may not be the best venue in terms of drumming up atmosphere, and the audience may have been drawn mainly from the forty-something city-workers and fun seeking fundraisers, rather than fanatical pseudo-indie girls like yours truly, but following a surprise three-track-set from harmonising trio The Magic Numbers, and the suspension of a giant picture of Franz Ferdinand (The Arch-Duke that is, for once, rather than the band) the whole crowd was on their feet, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the stylish Scots.

They did not disappoint. Attacking the crowd in the subtle way that only a four-piece guitar band can, they lived up to their manifesto (see how I can shove the election down your throat even when you think you’re reading a gig review!) of wanting to make music for girls to dance to with their single about boys who like to get on the dance-floor too ‘Michael’. Despite sitting down (bar one or two desperately uncool dads getting excited about the Kaiser Chiefs) for the rest of the bands, the audience became a crowd and didn’t sit down once. When singer Alex Kapranos introduced another song “About a boy, but we haven’t told him we’ve written this song about him so we better not say” and began ‘Wee Andy’, he made the Albert Hall the first audience to exclusively witness a taste of what Franz’ new album will sound like - Just a hint, if you like the first album, you won’t be disappointed.

Thinking about it now, the line up was perfect. It was great to see Franz Ferdinand, who I haven’t seen since an amazing set at Reading last year, and even better to see their new stuff, as I think a lot of people who assume that bands that get that big that fast often burn out after one great album and Graham Coxon and the Kaisers were the best accompaniment, each possessing qualities Franz Ferdinand brought together in the headline slot. Fusing Coxon’s style and precision with the Kaiser’s energy and cheeky lyrics on a slightly less obvious scale, Franz Ferdinand were easily the best act of the audience, and their ability to make a venue more used to Last Night of the Proms enthuse about a different type of British music was impressive. (oh and it was nice to get those free wrist bands that everyone’s wearing… and it was purple!)

Review: Emily Antenen and Charlie Antzack

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