Franz Ferdinand The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, June 2

Franz Ferdinand The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, June 2
Photo: Stephen McGill

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Rather than perform under a portrait of their namesake, Franz Ferdinand brought their 15 years of highly danceable songs to the sold-out crowd at the Danforth Music Hall under a portrait of Gavrilo Princip, the fella that assassinated Ferdinand. It was a curious choice, given most would've assumed it to be a portrait of Ferdinand himself.
 
Despite the weariness in Princip's eyes (the photo was his famous mugshot), the Glaswegian five-piece (Dino Bardot filling in for original guitarist Nick McCarthy, who left the band last year, with Julian Corrie on keys) were in high spirits. Each sporting a rather delightful printed shirt, with frontman Alex Kapranos flaunting a leopard print blazer and a tireless smile to boot, the band shook out song after song that had the crowd shaking in reply.
 
They played a fine mix of older and newer tunes, and the crowd received everything with open ears and ready feet, their restless bodies reaching all the way to the back of the venue. There was hardly a pause in their movement; the band had a guaranteed hold on them and dancing was a must. Through tempo changes and switch-ups, as the band's songs are privy to, the crowd knew what to do. Sure, "No You Girls," "Dark of the Matinee" (in which Kapranos changed "I'm on BBC 2 now" to "I'm on CBC 2 now" just for us) and "Darts of Pleasure" were all welcome, but the first smash of the evening was "Do You Want To." The band teased the tune, bookending it with an extended start and finish for tension's sake. Though the song is now over a decade old, it hadn't aged a days for fans, as they bopped about and filled in the "Lucky lucky, you're so lucky" ending remark loud and clear.
 
Franz Ferdinand make the kind of tunes that are instantly recognizable, for the minute of the first strum (or even the first few drum hits), so the opening riff of "Michael" was instantly met with cheers, to say nothing of the reaction that their first hit, 2004's "Take Me Out" had (cue the same boisterous reaction that "Do You Want To" was met with). There was genuine joy to be found both onstage (Kapranos with his near-constant smile and many wild leaps during the set) and in the crowd (friends, couples singing to each other, dancing together). "Stand on the Horizon" ended with beautiful harmony from all in the band, and when Kapranos' voice cracked just a tad, it added to the emotion of it all.
 
Putting an end to the evening with a chaotic rendition of "This Fire," the crowd unwearied, was dramatic: The band were silhouetted, backlit in red while the crowd fed the line "This fire is out of control, we're going to burn this city" back to the charismatic Kapranos. And when the fire had gone out, the band sweetly came together for a group bow, hand in hand, bringing the performance to a close.
 
Oh, and a big high five to the lighting technician that nailed the sequencing during each song (complete, strobe-like chaos during a manic bit, and delightful spinning circles during softer numbers). It was a perfect complement to the band's music, further fleshing out the evening.