FFS @ The Glasgow School of Art, 16 June
Unmistakably Maelian lyrics, Sparksian hooks and the simple keyboard melodies that inspired some of Franz Ferdinand’s hits drive FFS, the supergroup’s eponymous debut, leaving us to wonder if Kapranos and company would suddenly shine brighter than ringmaster Russell when they rolled into FF’s native Glasgow.
Mael’s glam falsetto and Kapranos’ indie baritone don’t blend so much as orbit – like binary stars, or like two accomplished tango dancers at their first ceilidh. The effect is as endearingly, comfortably awkward as Kapronos’ low-key hip-stick stage presence (like one of your mates doing a David Bowie imitation in your kitchen). It’s also sometimes brilliant. After almost two hours of thought-provoking if mostly undanceable mixes from DJ Hush (think introspective art student, deep vinyl library, spinning at a pre-concert flat party for acquaintances passively appreciative but still just waiting to leave) FFS takes the stage with Police Encounters, and when the rocker’s over someone shouts ‘It WORKS!’
And it does. Russell warms up and is soon soaring; Kapranos looks about as blissed as Mick Jagger playing with Muddy Waters, John Mayer with Clapton. And even notoriously stonefaced Sparks keyboardist Ron – something like Sam Elliott, Joseph Goebbels, and Skeletor, if that hybrid had a pencil moustache and was your middle school science teacher – can’t help but crack a smile.
Of course Collaborations Don’t Work is ironic, but FFS makes the point more subtly with a liquid transition from Sparks’ 1994 hit When Do I Get To Sing “My Way” into the FFS single Call Girl. Sparks’ This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us gets the sticky floor shaking, right before the band delivers that dram of pure Naughties pop nectar, Take Me Out. After the closer Piss Off, two sides of the room chant 'FFS' in overlapping double- and half-time: Ron returns sans tie, wearing a ‘Borderline Attractive From Afar’ t-shirt, and thrills us with a choppy-flailing-arm-dance; the band rides massive plaudits through Sparks’ The Number One Song In Heaven and leaves us smiling, sweating, and very satisfied in Michael-induced euphoria. A mix of energized old hits and surprising new anthems makes an FFS concert even better than the album. Whether or not you want to see an FFS2, the supergroup is one of the most entertaining acts you can hope to see this summer.