As concept-driven theatrical art-pop collaborations go, there are few more perfect than this year's hook-up between rejuvenated glam/disco/electro oddballs Sparks and Glasgow-sired quartet Franz Ferdinand, whose own fusion of dancefloor-driven jauntiness and lyrical archness has never shied away from its debt to the Mael brothers fabulist canon.
With a tour pending that includes a sold out date at this year's Edinburgh International Festival, it was only fitting that such a super-group made its full live début at FF's spiritual alma mater. Fanfared on by the plastic triumphalism of the theme from Blake's 7, this unholy black-and-white clad alliance gallop into a salvo of songs from this year's eponymous album, with Franz's Alex Kapranos and Sparks' Russell Mael trading vocals and hamming it up on frantic and frenetic future gay club classics like Johnny Delusional as if their lives depended on it.
At moments they're the Swingle Singers, at others wild west troubadours, and, on the gloriously knowing Collaborations Don't Work, which even makes room for a few shy murmurs from the ever impassive and keyboard-bound Ron Mael and Franz bassist Bob Hardy, like Brechtian divas in drag. Spookily, on Sparks' already poignant When Do I Get To Sing My Way?, close your eyes and it could be the late Billy Mackenzie and former Josef K front-man Paul Haig duetting up there. Interspersed with euphoric anthems like Franz's Take Me Out and Sparks' epic This Town Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us, and with a much bigger Glasgow show just announced for Barrowlands on August 26th, the end result of such mutual fantasy-wish-fulfilment is a joyous set of post-modern show-tunes for Now people.
The Herald, June 17th 2015