Musical collaborations are often viewed with scepticism and fraught with the apprehension that it’s the band that are getting more out of the project than the audience. The overall feeling is that something isn’t quite right and the sooner things return to normal the better. FFS must have had their reservations, to have written the song ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’. Although they have nothing to worry about, as this one proves that they obviously do. With each moment FFS are confounding those assumptions, the whole project feels like one of those great ideas that you wished had happened sooner.

Sunderland’s Slug are the perfect warm up for tonight’s proceedings. Musically they are slightly off-kilter with most other bands. Their combination of tuxedos and sailor outfits is also not what you would ordinarily expect, but fits in with their quirkiness. They are fronted by former Field Music man Ian Black and there is a lot to like about their music, which has elements of the former band in the mix.

‘Greasy Mind’ is the stand out track tonight with its taut riffs which powered the song along. ‘Shake Your Loose Teeth’ doesn’t stray too far from the band’s template sound and provides the band with another chance to highlight the musical qualities of all the band.

‘We have an album out. It’s not bad,’ Black announces with a self deprecatory tone. On the evidence of tonight, he may be right. They are definitely a band that deserves a tick in the ones to watch out for file.

FFS stroll on to the stage and they receive the sort of rousing reception reserved to homecoming heroes and bands after triumphant sets. From that moment onwards they could do no wrong and they don’t. They launch into the single ‘Johnny Delusional’ which is a high octane introduction to what FFS are all about – theatrics and rousing sing-alongs.

What’s brilliant about FFS is how seamlessly it all works. The twin frontmen of Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael, both feed off each other’s theatricality to add an extra dimension to the sound. Musically too, Ron Mael and the Franz Ferdinand backline really click into gear. It’s almost as though this is a Marvel Comics creation – two already fantastic beings, molded together to form something greater than their original form. You can’t shake the feeling that it shouldn’t work, but it does fantastically. The first ‘cover’ of the night ‘Do You Want To’ highlighted this coming together perfectly. I’m not sure I’ve heard a better version of this song on the previous occasions I’ve seen it played. It was that good.

The opening numbers are frenetic, by the time they play ‘Little Guy From The Suburbs’, all present need a slower number for a chance to have a breather. This was the only one, as the pace was back to the frenetic levels soon after. The wonderfully elegiac ‘Save Me from Myself’ is a great song anyway, but it works perfectly in the beautiful setting of The Albert Hall. The pipe organ overlooking the stage is a great backdrop, but with the lights bouncing off the shiny surfaces it adds to the visual spectacle of the night.

What is noticeable about the audience is the feeling that they have bought in to the project without question. There is no shouting out for the obvious songs from either band’s back catalogue – though they are played eventually. It is the way the new songs are sung as passionately by the crowd, as they would for the hits.



‘The Number One Song in Heaven’ is brilliant musically as ever, but the highlight is the usually impassive Ron getting up from behind his keyboard to sit on the lip of the stage while the rest of the band play a set of drums that have been brought out for each individual. He rounds off his excursion with some vigorous dancing that would have scored well on Strictly Come Dancing.

‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’ is just simply majestic from start to finish. The reaction to it almost derails the set, as Russell and the rest of the band are visibly moved by the reaction of the audience. Most bands would kill to have a song like this as their closing number. The fact they can get away with playing this song in the middle of the set shows the strength of the FFS material.

Prompted by the opening bars of ‘Take Me Out’ the crowd and band are bouncing in unison this lasted almost for the entirety of the song. Before they launch into their final number before a deserved encore, the band thank the audience and then set up the next one which for some bands could be a provocative statement, for FFS it was another arch of that already raised eyebrow ‘Piss Off’. The T-shirts bearing that inscription do brisk sales at the merchandise stand. I even noticed a few audience members flaunting them when the song was played. 

The Sparks song ‘When Do I Get to Sing “My Way”’ segue nicely into the new one ‘Call Girl’ and before we know it the night is almost over, bar one last one. ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ ramped up the camp and theatricality of the night as the twin frontmen trade verbal barbs to try and prove their theory expressed in the title. Sadly for them the evidence of the previous 90-minutes had long since disproved that notion – although the audience enjoyed them trying to have one last chance at doing so.

This was just fantastic from start to finish and was one of those nights that seemed to fly by. FFS have set themselves a difficult task as to how do you follow that. Do they the two bands continue as usual after all this has finished? Or do they continue this wonderfully eccentric journey? It would be a shame if this was only a one-off. FFS give us some more.

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