FFS Live At The London Troxy

The Sparks and Franz Ferdinand's theatrical supergroup prog out like there's no tomorrow.

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

There can’t be many bands out there who get a rapturous response to tracks from an album that has been out for less than a month, but then again, FFS are not your average band, comprising as they do all four members of Franz Ferdinand and all two members of Sparks.

But what a two: the one with the neo-operatic shriek, and the one with the stare. Russell Mael bounces around the stage with the energy of a man a third his age (he’s 66), while older brother Ron, who gets the biggest cheer, assumes his usual position behind the piano.

The gig is a mix of music by Sparks, Franz and FFS. It starts with Johnny Delusional, Alex Kapranos’ lounge lizard mid-range croon dovetailing nicely with Russell’s more outlandish falsetto. The Man Without A Tan has the jerky energy of prime 10cc, even if Franz rhythm guitarist Nick McCarthy looks like a 1950s Ted with his gelled-back DA.

Franz’s Walk Away and the equally reflective Little Guy From The Suburbs are brief lulls in the frantic proceedings. Dictator’s Son opens with the pounding piano of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us, whetting the appetite for some Sparks, which we finally get when FFS play Achoo – one of the songs Franz rehearsed with in their early days.

Next is The Power Couple, which could be a celebration of this very collaboration, Kapranos and Mael giving it loads of mannered theatrics. The mash-up of Do You Want To and This Town… is sensational, Kapranos “yeah yeah yeah”-ing like a Beatle. So Desu Ne is like Yellow Magic Orchestra, segueing into No 1 Song In Heaven, for whose Moroder-ised boogie we are treated to a 1920s-style vamp from Ron, eliciting an ecstatic reaction from the crowd. Police Encounters could have been on Indiscreet, and would be a hit in a chart where nervy intelligence is championed.

Take Me Out gets Russell pogoing like there’s no tomorrow, which there won’t be at this rate. Piss Off would have been the perfect kiss-off, but then we wouldn’t have had the encores: an extended mix of When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’/Call Girl, and Collaborations Don’t Work, all prog shifts and dynamic poperatics.

Russell and Alex embrace, all six take a bow, and the audience bom-bom‑diddy-diddy all the way home.

Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.