In the 16 months since Franz Ferdinand last played Boston, the stylish Scots have soft-shoed their way from alt-rock darlings to genuine mainstream contenders. At the Grammys, that was them up there with Los Lonely Boys and Black Eyed Peas. So when they stepped on stage at the Orpheum on Saturday, it was time to prove they had the goods to go with the hype. Could the same infectious, red-light-trawling dance punk that lit up Avalon more than a year ago survive the Orpheum spotlight?
No worries. A roar greeted singer/guitarist Alex Krapanos when he appeared alone to deliver the opening lines of “Jacqueline,” and before the song ended, the band owned the crowd. In a triumphant, hour-plus set that mixed songs from the band’s new disc and their 2004 debut, the charismatic Krapanos played up the knowing edge of his velvety croon, and he teased the crowd, aiming his raised hands outward as if he were Svengali. Nick McCarthy’s edgy slivers of guitar pushed as many dance-rock switches as the groove of Paul Thomson’s drums and Bob Hardy’s sinuous bass. Controlled yet fully revved, their set showed off the stylish nuances of Krapanos’s voice and the stop-on-a-dime tempo changes of their songs. Yet the spry bounce of each tune belied Krapanos’s fascination with the sinister shades of the human heart.
Franz Ferdinand are taking full advantage of their 15 minutes plus. On the current tour, they’ve brought along two like-minded bands — fellow Glaswegians Sons & Daughters, who started the evening off with an inflamed set of sexy blues rock, and Melbourne agitpoppers Cut Copy, whose synth-driven, guitar-drenched set of sample-heavy dance music shared Franz Ferdinand’s dual obsession with making people move while revealing the darkness that surrounds the neon of nightlife.