When someone great is gone: Franz Ferdinand pay homage to Margot Kidder at the Fox Theater in Oakland
A click of the heels (three times), and a dose of good music to help us grieve together
Before the music, first a musing.
Alex Kapranos, lead singer and guitarist of Glaswegian rock outfit Franz Ferdinand, was the last band member to grace the stage at the Fox Theater in Oakland on May 17. I’d noticed him catching a glimpse of opening act Priests, just out of view stage right, before heading back to prep for his own set. (Ed’s note: Priests, a post-punk band from Washington, D.C., are awesome.)
Then it came time for Kapranos to kick off the show. Which he did by way of a brief story: Franz Ferdinand have been touring for some time now, upon the release in early February of their latest album, Always Ascending, the fifth in their oeuvre.
There’s no place like home, Kapranos said, as his band mates made final tunings to their instruments and prepped for the opening track, Glimpse of Love by providing Kapranos’s opening thoughts with soft backing music. So, Kapranos continued, gesturing to his choice of footwear for the evening (ruby red slippers!, Dorothy style), he’d clicked his heels three times, each time saying, There’s no place like home.
But as Kapranos hadn’t been home, in Glasgow, for many weeks now, he shared that he’d come to a sort of understanding about his life on tour. Since he couldn’t be home, he’d abide by another notion instead. Home is where the heart is, and why not enjoy being with a packed-to-the-brim theater (if you live in the Bay Area, check out the Fox if you haven’t already—it’s gilded, gleaming, and wondrous), enjoying the proximity of a certain sort of family.
And it was in front of this group of people that Kapranos would pay homage to Margot Kidder, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 69. It was a life that took on particular resonance for Kapranos, who dedicated the song Lois Lane, off the new album, to Kidder—noting that she was the chief inspiration for that track.
It’s a song that’s tied me in knots since I first heard it in February; something about the tangled web of choices we make on our way into adulthood, life becoming more murky, casting a pall upon what we’d thought as kids: once you grew up, everything became clear. It’s a lyrical tour de force from Kapranos, who based upon interviews comes across as a very insightful chap.
The rest of Franz Ferdinand’s set was the usual rocking fare, with notable selections Michael, No You Girls, Do You Want To, and Take Me Out accompanied by the lesser-known, but wondrously hypnotic Lucid Dreams. Then there was This Fire as the finale, extended to the point of being fit to burst (Kapranos and co. do this with several of their songs, and it’s always received rapturously by the audience).
When the final flame had filtered out, and the show was over, I was struck by something Kevin Barnes, of Of Montreal fame, once noted about a good concert. You should leave with that sense of being filled, like after watching a good film, ready to recap what just happened on the trip home. Poring over details, asking about others’ perceptions of the same event. Quizzing over it together.
And that was the point. Whether it was death, or celebration of a goddamn good band, a group of people was brought closer together over the course of an hour and forty minutes. On a day like today, when tragedy has yet again befallen this country in the vein of another school shooting, I can think of no greater harbinger of hope for the road ahead.