“By the end of the night, you’re all going to be standing up,” Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos told the audience at the start of the set.
Rabat – The Scottish rock group brought the Casablanca Hippodrome to its feet on the first night of the Jazzablanca Festival, lasting from July 2 -12.
The band started the set – their first on the continent – with “Stand On The Horizon” from their 2013 album “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.”
Although Alex Kapranos mostly exhorted the audience with phrases of French or in his native English, he also demonstrated that he had memorized some Darija before taking the stage.
“Kulchi bekhir? Kulchi mezian?” Kapranos asked the crowd, delivering the customary Moroccan greeting like a slightly sheepish punchline, to cheers from the audience.
However, Franz Ferdinand’s showmanship was far more physical than linguistic: Kapranos’ made periodic fan kicks at the microphone. During the rendition of 2004 hit “Take Me Out,” four of the five musicians moved center stage for synchronized jumps during the chorus.
Franz Ferdinand’s eponymously titled 2004 debut album launched them onto the global music scene, one of a handful of rock bands to emerge from Great Britain in the early 2000s. Along with the Kaiser Chiefs and the Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand helped pioneer a dancefloor-friendly, slightly frenetic, punk-influenced variant of rock.
The setlist telescoped in time, interspersing Grammy-nominated hits from the early 2000s with tracks from their most recent album, “Always Ascending,” released in February 2018.
Audience members enthusiastically sang along to “Do You Want To,” a track from Franz Ferdinand’s 2005 album “You Could Have It So Much Better,” the group’s second album, which also topped the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
Performing for Casablanca, Franz Ferdinand alternated hits from their early repertoire, such as “The Dark Of The Matinée,” “Jacqueline,” and “Michael,” with recent songs like “Ulysses” and “Lazy Boy.”
Returning to the stage for the encore, Kapranos addressed the crowd with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other, instructing everyone to “feel the love.”
Leaving the stage at the end of the set, the musicians graciously paused for selfies and handshakes with fans gathering by the exit.
Jazzablanca’s history roughly coincides with Franz Ferdinand’s timeline: the first festival was held in 2006. Now on its 14th edition, Jazzablanca boasts of presenting a wide range of artists representing an equally wide range of genres.
Homegrown ensemble Les Frères Souissi, branding themselves as Moroccan Jazz, will perform at this year’s festival as will the disco-funk legend Al McKay, the Grammy-winning guitarist of 1970s group Earth, Wind, and Fire.