Franz Ferdinand and MGMT Sydney Review @ Hordern Pavilion

  • Written by 
  • Thursday, 26 July 2018 18:05
Published in Music News  
Franz Ferdinand at Splendour 2018. Franz Ferdinand at Splendour 2018. Image © Stephen Sloggett

After a rendezvous at Splendour In The Grass, Franz Ferdinand and MGMT treated Australia to a two date co-headline tour.


It’s not very often that two musical veterans join forces, but here I was, about to watch the indie bands of my youth take over the Hordern Pavilion (25 July) in Sydney.

With such an early show, people were frantically spilling into the venue desperate not to miss a second of Franz Ferdinand’s 8pm set. Instead of the band, however, we were greeted with the remnants of a sound check and a stage technician pedantically returning all of the guitars.

I guess the band were running a little late after going a little too hard on their ‘Splendour bender’, but aren’t we all?

Franz Ferdinand.2Franz Ferdinand at Splendour 2018 - image © Stephen Sloggett

Opening their set with ‘Always Ascending’, it was clear this was going to be a night of big performances. The stage presence of lead singer Alex Kapranos was electric, and infectious, wowing the dreary mid-week crowd. Bounding and scissor-kicking his way across the stage, Alex reminded us why Franz Ferdinand remain relevant in modern rock.

After a set filled with old favourites and new music, the band launched into their biggest hit ‘Take Me Out’ with the help of their fellow Splendour friends, Superorganism.

Franz Ferdinand.3Franz Ferdinand at Splendour 2018 - image © Stephen Sloggett

Even with all of this outrageous energy and charm, the band had started to show their age when they burst into ‘No You Girls’. For a song that is generally quite brash and animated, it was reduced to a drawn out, mundane mess. Every word seemed to drain whatever affection Alex and the band once held for the hit, finally beaten down after one-to-many spins at 2am.

After being away from Australia for the best part of ten years, it might have been a little too long between drinks for MGMT. The American indie duo recently released their fifth studio album, ‘Little Dark Age’, a streamlined synth-pop that saw the band attempt to return to their fan favourite roots.

Not everyone was as convinced however, as a large number of fans left the show well before the end of their set.

MGMTMGMT at Splendour 2018 - image © Stephen Sloggett

Maybe the audience was banking on the nostalgia of ‘Oracular Spectacular’ to carry them through the obscure psychedelia of MGMT’s later albums? Or maybe they were simply ignorant to the fact the band had actually released more than one album?

Either way, it pained me to watch a slow sea of faces pour out of the Hordern Pavilion.

If Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser noticed the crowd leaving, they certainly didn’t let it affect their performance and continued to traverse through their back catalogue for their Sydney fans.

Those who actually bothered to hang around were treated to a live rendition of old favourites such as ‘Weekend Wars’ and ‘Electric Feel’, which went a long way in reviving a flat-footed crowd.

One of the most impressive parts of their set was the theatrics and the light show; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely mesmerised and spent the majority of the show fixated on the visuals.

Let’s also not forget about the enormous, inflatable creature (from their ‘Little Dark Age’ album cover) that appeared on stage mid-set.

MGMT.2MGMT at Splendour 2018 - image © Stephen Sloggett

In all seriousness though, this show could (and probably should) have been marketed as an immersive experience; MGMT’s production crew definitely deserve a massive pat on the back for their work on this set.

While MGMT’s set seemed to pale in comparison to Franz Ferdinand’s performance, this is not to say it was terrible or not worth the ticket price; I feel like it was a show that boiled down to managing expectations.

MGMT have changed and experimented with their sound over the past ten years and honestly, it’s hard to appease an audience that doesn’t care about four of the five albums you’ve released.

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