Wed. July 27th, Hard Rock Live, Orlando, FL.
I arrive following a tired drive from Melbourne, having foolishly taken only two hours of sleep the night before, and before I enter Hard Rock, I have a sudden flourish: was this the right day for the concert? I was pretty sure it was Wednesday... I glanced at my watch and it had the 26th as the date. I was pretty sure I didn't reset my watch properly. I didn't see the concert advertised on the electronic banner on the front of the venue. I pulled out my cell phone and checked: July 27. Okay. I'm okay.
I step in the place at 8 p.m. and wander around for a while. I ask a security guard if there is an opening band. She doesn't believe so. I entered the main area and was immediately surpised at the overwhelming numbers of young teenagers. It wasn't packed yet, but the front half of the main floor was cluttered with youth in Interpol and Pixies tee shirts, standing in semi-circles and talking loudly about various youthful activities. I peered up at the stage and inspected the band's equipment as I do at every concert, and noticed the background had changed a bit from last week. No second tom on the drumset... wait, no first tom either. Just floor tom, hmmm.
During the course of the next hour I looked at the merch table ($25 for a shirt? I was sure the Franz wouldn't be good enough to rationalize buying one), spotted people who looked like other people I didn't really know but weren't really them, saw some guy smoking inside, saw what I assumed to be an early-thirties Britpop hipster wearing big hair, black jacket, white shirt, black slacks, and some kickin' cowboy boots, and watched the place fill up until every space I could(n't) see up to the back walls was filled with people. During this time, I stopped myself from checking my watch and got my hopes up when the guitar tech came out and tuned the guitars. I thought that meant it was getting to be about that time.
He tuned each guitar no less than four times in the course of 40 minutes.
After some asinine moments where MTV had the crowd cheering to recorded versions of "Dark of the Matinee" and "Take Me Out", the band took the stage to tremendous cheers. They were all wearing properly fitting black slacks with belts, and had different coloured shirts on- Kapranos with his red button up silky shirt, bass player in black (fitted his mood- he was the least excited looking one of the bunch), second guitarist in a humorous green plaid polo, and the drummer wearing a dull yellow tee shirt- and all had shiny black dressy shoes.
They opened with Michael. I was a bit surpised at the choice, but immediately noticed that they were taking it a bit faster than the recording. These guys are wonderful performers- they took everything faster, put interesting digressions into a couple of the arrangements, and were having a great time- the two guitarists would meet up and walk out close to the crowd on the runway, posing and hitting riffs... man, those riffs. Every time I heard a song, it made me appreciate their album a little bit more. They played nearly every song on it (with a strange exception of "Cheating on you") and even played five new songs. What they said would be their next single was kind of goofy. The new stuff sounded like revamped versions of the old songs. Throughout the course of the concert, I realized how many of their verses and songs ended with "Yeeeaaah" and how really cool it was.
Anyway, these guys... yeaeeeah. I was so into it, I was even fooled when the singer said "Okay, it's time to play a golden oldie". I thought "that's strange... they're Scottish!" and then they immediately bang out those opening E's to "Take Me Out" and everyone there just starts freaking out. The singer even had some interesting banter (from what I heard of it over the drunk women screaming as loud as possible right next to me).
During their encore with "40 ft.," which they rocked to the max, they introduced each other. And the singer pointed at people with his guitar. Like it was a gun. Ahhh, ha. Then, they went right into "Darts of pleasure," an awesome, awesome, awesome closer. The last refrain of "Ich heisse super fantastische" was the ONLY time during the course of the concert that the bass player used the mic set up for him. They were all (even the drummer, who sang backup on a lot of the songs) just sweetly shouting it with that huge backing sound they had. Man.
This is the part where I try to pick up their first EP from Amazon and wonder whether I should spring for the full-length release that has those bonus songs on it.
Oh yeah, and I bought a shirt.