BY RYAN MICHAEL PAINTER
June 9th, 2004 and I spent the majority of the day driving across the bottom half of Wyoming, while only somewhat looking forward to spending the night at Denver's Bluebird with a band from Scotland that I casually knew, but of whom I had yet to really form an opinion. That would be the night I fell in love with Franz Ferdinand. There was something about their excitement, everything possible but nothing promised - that instantly endeared them to me. In months to follow they'd grace the cover of various American magazines, always with that cheeky expression suggesting "I can't believe we're getting away with this!"
It's amazing to think what a year can do for you. They're now filling arenas and venues in Europe easily four or five times larger than the intimate clubs they'd filled only months before in America. Armed with new material, Franz Ferdinand strutted into their Utah debut and I sat back with fingers crossed, hoping success hadn't rotted their heads. You see, rock n'roll posturing can be a dangerous thing; it requires a certain amount of balance of talent and personality without alienating the audience with an unjustified arrogance. In the intimacy of the Bluebird, the band seemed honest; would it translate in the cavern known as Saltair? Would the new material come across as poorly as Coldplay's pathetic performance at Coachella? It has been a year of broken hearts, after all, and optimism isn't on the schedule.
So I waited, not needing to be reconverted, but somewhat nervous that the fame and success could have taken the edge off and replaced their boyish excitement with bloated confidence. It hadn't. The set was a pleasant mix of old material and new songs that never lost the energetic audience as they segued from familiar to unheard and back again. Yes, I found myself wishing the venue was as small as it was before, that somehow they'd remained obscure and still had all the success - but at least it wasn't the Birmingham NEC ... Come to think of it, the idea of thousands of alcohol-impaired Brits screaming along to every song has its unexpected charm. I guess you could say that's exactly how I feel about Franz Ferdinand; charming in an awkward sort of way. Yes, they could have been your next door neighbor. Which, in this country, is enough to get you elected president. We definitely could have had it better. F.F. in '08, anyone?