8 September 2015

Another fantastic evening with FFS (Franz Ferdinand Sparks) at the London Forum

One of my life's simple rules is if Sparks are playing in London then I go to see them. And that rule applies even when they are part of super-group FFS and if I have seen them play recently.

I saw FFS at the Troxy in June when they played just a few dates in the UK and then they came back in September to play some more dates, having been across Europe and Japan in the meantime. It was obviously not just me that thought that the concerts were fantastic, they had got rave reviews and were sold out so it was not too surprising that the came back for more.

I have seen Sparks play in all sorts of venues across London and this time they were back at the London Forum where I had seen them twice in two days in 2009 when it was called the HMV Forum.  This is not that far from our London office but I did not want to go there wearing a suit and carrying a bag so I worked at home instead and late afternoon I took the London Overground from Richmond to Gospel Oak, my first time there, and walked that last stretch arriving just as the doors opened at 7pm.

The queue was not that long and I was not faced with the prospect that I had had on a previous visit there when I was not sure if I would get in before Sparks started. Not only was the queue shorter and moving faster this time but there was the prospect of a support band too so FFS were not going to be on stage for while.

I had a nice and, sadly, brief encounter with Anonymous (sorry, I've forgotten her name) in the queue. She had recognised me from this blog and came back to say hello. I had sat next to her at Sparks at the Barbican last December and we, with Peter, had had a long chat about art and things in the comfort of our stalls seats.

I was not that close to the front of the queue and so I was a little surprised to get a place to stand so close to the front. All the spaces next to the rail were taken but I was able to stand just right of centre behind three young women you were delightfully not very tall.

The next two hours were a combination of waiting and enduring the pretty painful support band. At least I had my phone and could read Twitter to keep myself sane.

Then FFS came on stage and all the pain of the travelling and the waiting was forgotten. FFS put on an absolutely stunning show at the Troxy and they did it again at the Forum.

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks  had worked on their performance and there were a lot of nice things to appreciate. The simplest presentation had Russell and Alex singing and dancing as a duet while the rest of the band played bouncy music. It struck me that Alex moved like a doll, or an Action Man if you prefer, with straight arms and legs. The military effect was strengthen by his cavalry trousers.

Ron did what Ron does, including the Ron Dance, and other members of the band had turns in the limelight. Even the shy bassist Bob Hardy had a go at the front playing the keyboards on one song. He was soon joined by three others, including Russell.

One scene I loved was the introduction to No 1 Song in Heaven where Ron played the theme and everybody else played drums. It was the many little things like that which made the show such fun to watch.

Then there was the actual music, of course.

FFS played their brand of bouncy pop with a lot of aplomb and a touch of swagger. The set was much the same as the last time, understandably so since they had only done one album, though they did Sherlock Holmes as a band for the first time. Little Guy From The Suburbs again stood out from the new songs and When Do I Get to Sing "My Way" from the old ones. But these were just the icing on a very delicious cake and every song was a treat and I quickly abandoned dignity to swing with the music, I'll not flatter it by calling it dancing, and to sing a few choruses.

I think I enjoyed FFS even more the second time around and that may have been because I knew what to expect and so could just enjoy it rather than try to understand it. Anyway, whatever the reason this was an exceptionally good concert and I can only hope that FFS come back to London soon, perhaps to promote their second album.


  1. Hi. Here is anonymous (aka Julie Bowdler - can we manage to swap emails or something without broadcasting to the world tho I am easy to track down!). We absolutely loved the show. My best of the year without a doubt. We could see you at the front. We were at the front of the balcony. Did not like the support although I think they were a last minute replacement so I give them some credit for that. I'd see FFS again like a shot.

    1. Julie, I've sent a Facebook friend request to you (I hope!). Alternatively you can email me on mfr@reesmf.fsnet.co.uk. My email address is already on several websites so I am not worried about sharing it.


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