I know it's probably unfair to compare a crowd at the Marquee to a crowd at Coachella -- where the music-obsessed kids even greeted the white reggae band who came on after local boys Dear and the Headlights like The Beatles at Shea Stadium -- but since Franz Ferdinand and I were both in Indio Friday night, and at the Marquee Saturday, I'm gonna do it. By that standard, it was a bit of a letdown, as the Scottish indie rockers took the greater part of their set to warm up a surprisingly dead Tempe crowd. By the closer, a loud version of "This Fire," people were pretty in to the set, screaming along to the refrain and pumping their fists, but it took a long time to get there.
Now, I wouldn't go so far as to call the crowd "lame" since they did get in to it starting midway through ("Tell Her Tonight" was a highlight of the show) but I honesty do think the crowd was hurt by the exodus to Indio, where a lot of Phoenix's most die-hard (and dance-prone) indie music fans are this weekend. Compared to, say, The Faint (a band with a similar draw, that also plays feet shufflin' indie rock, which was at the Marquee in November) I was surprised to see things so tame. It wasn't really the band's fault, the show had plenty of nice moments: The third song, "Do You Want To?" had a fantastic little breakdown during the "lucky, lucky, you're so lucky" bit, with a riff that wouldn't sound out of place if your favorite hair metal act played it. Likewise, the song they used to open their Coachella set, "The Matinee," was fantastic.
Singer Alex Kapranos (who to me looks like a young Christian Slater, even though he's actually only two years younger than the 39-year-old actor) deserves a lot of the credit. He has a deep, rich voice that's got a crooner quality to it, and, live, his full range sounded just as polished as it does on record. He engaged the crowd several times with great success, including playing "Darts of Pleasure," after reading it off a sign in the crowd, then taking a hit off his inhaler before starting the song. Kapranos messed up the first verse, but it was still a nice touch to the night. Meanwhile, guitarist/keyboardist/backup vocalist Nick McCarthy played the set with crutches leaning against his amp, having injured his foot. Robert Hardy, the bassist (who is a very interesting guy, by the way) was not as in to the show. I think I might have caught him sighing at one point, which would normally really turn me off but he played well nonetheless and, really, he was no less in to it than much of the crowd for much of the night.
I know, Robert, after a day of Coachella this was a bit of a letdown.Critic's Notebook: