- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Franz Ferdinand isn’t a would-be ruler, like its namesake, but the Scottish band nonetheless is very good at giving people exactly what they want.

For the show at DAR Constitution Hall on Tuesday, co-headlined with Death Cab for Cutie, that meant sticking mostly to songs from the group’s self-titled 2004 debut album. The college-age crowd went wild over such tracks as “Jacqueline” and “This Fire.” Highlights from last year’s album, “You Could Have It So Much Better,” didn’t go over nearly as well.

Although the band’s second album wasn’t received quite as well as its first, Franz Ferdinand is still one of the most exciting bands working today — a good old-fashioned guitar band with a modern sound that’s irresistibly groovy. The Constitution Hall crowd certainly wasn’t immune to the good vibes. Even those who remained in their seats tapped their feet along with those who couldn’t help but stand up and dance.

The skinny boys from Glasgow play with complete assuredness. But then, they were just as poised during the tour for their first album. Maybe frontman Alex Kapranos has more sex appeal now. Shaking his legs and singing close to the microphone during “Darts of Pleasure,” he elicited more than a few shrieks from the female half of the audience.

Of course, the band can play, too. Nick McCarthy’s jangling guitar fuels the band’s signature sound. The highlight of the night, perhaps surprisingly, was a song from “You Could Have It So Much Better,” the group’s sophomore effort: “Outsiders” found the band with not one but two extra drummers. It was exhilarating, but not overwhelming.

Franz Ferdinand shares a great many fans with the Seattle band Death Cab for Cutie, the night’s second act, but the two groups play very different music. That was evident almost immediately when Death Cab got off to an inauspicious start with a couple of mellow tunes that weren’t particularly moving when performed.

The band soon found more solid footing, however, delivering such singles as “Crooked Teeth” from 2005’s “Plans” with some energy. The crowd even was treated to a rocked-up version of the affecting song “Title and Registration” from the band’s breakthrough album, 2003’s “Transatlanticism.” Lead singer Ben Gibbard’s earnest voice, a focal point of every song, was in good form.

Death Cab comes off as incredibly good-natured. Mr. Gibbard repeated that the group was “Death Cab for Cutie from Seattle, Washington,” as if he couldn’t quite believe the sold-out crowd had assembled to hear him. It even seemed at one point that the group was going to dedicate every song to someone: A band that toured with Death Cab before, the boys from Franz Ferdinand, even the audience members unfortunate enough to have seats almost behind the stage got a shout-out.

Death Cab for Cutie is a very talented foursome, but the pairing with Franz Ferdinand, although good for the fans, may not have showcased the American band in its best light.

Franz Ferdinand plays irresistible music you can dance to, and it’s a good fit for midsized concert halls. On the other hand, Death Cab for Cutie’s thoughtful lyrics and special sound are best heard at home with a top-quality stereo system.

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