Scissor Sisters/Franz Ferdinand, V Festival, Chelmsford

The triumph of art-pop, and other queer tales
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The Independent Culture

One platinum album and five hit singles later for each band, as they co-headline the most mainstream of British summer festivals, the Scissors/Franz triumph is complete.

Franz Ferdinand's own victory, of course, is a victory for intellect, guile and style. It's telling that, when Alex Kapranos asks us if we've had a good weekend, he encourages boos for Oasis (yesterday's headliners) and applause for Kaiser Chiefs. There's no doubt about where he stands.

Franzperform underneath four giant icons of themselves on long, narrow drapes, gazing off to the west, looking like Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, serious and purposeful: there is work to be done.

Although, in reality, the battle is already won. This is a band who can now afford to be cocky enough to take their curtain-call bow before they've played a note. And that difficult second album? Well, it turns out it wasn't that difficult after all. The excerpts from You Could Have It So Much Better... With Franz Ferdinand, the (superb) follow-up to last year's Mercury-winning debut, receive an astonishingly warm instant reaction.

"This Boy" is already familiar to the hardcore from the last tour. But new single "Do You Want To?", which continues the homo-erotic overtones of set-opener "Michael" ("your famous friend, I blew him before ya..."), causes a singalong by the time it reaches its absurdly catchy "doo-doo" chorus for the second time.

"Take Me Out" is introduced as "a golden oldie, a song Val Doonican made famous in 1928" (there's a genuine chill down the spine when, after that sudden hiatus, 40,000 people chant "Take me out!"). This is a band whose famously-stated aim was to make "music for girls to dance to", and in Franz's more danceable moments, such as the pulsating, Blondie-ish "Auf Achse" (which incorporates a few seconds of Kiss's rock-disco monster "I Was Made For Loving You"), the unseen kinship between FF and SS becomes clearer.

Scissor Sisters are the only band whose logo I'm considering, at my advanced age, tattooing on my arm (it helps, of course, that it's an incredibly cool logo). I'm just hanging back to make sure that the second album is any good before I visit the tattooist.

In Jake Shears, initially decked out in tinsel rags and silver lamé but topless before long, looking like a gay(er) Iggy Pop, and Ana Matronic, in a to-die-for rainbow ballgown, they have two of the greatest frontpersons in pop.

Underneath a lightbulb arc-en-ciel, spelling out their name and that logo, they dance the Charleston to a brand new song in a Dixieland-jazz style, with the infectious chorus "I can't decide whether you should live or die", to mass applause. There are four other new songs: one very Bee Gees number called "Everybody Wants The Same Thing", one called "Hairbaby", one about skin, and another disco track with the hook "magnifique, fantastique..." (c'est Chic). On this evidence, the second Scissors album is gonna be just fine too.

The hits, however, absolutely slay V. From the first "shamone, shamone!" of "Laura", this is a walkover. "Take Your Mama Out" is still the best song about coming out to your parents ever, "Comfortably Numb" is still an incredibly audacious discofication of the Pink Floyd original, "Mary" ("Merreh!") makes Elton John seem like a good idea, and "Filthy/Gorgeous" (dedicated to "any sluts, whores, hookers or slags out in the audience") would be their most potent dancefloor detonation, were it not for the great non-single "Tits On The Radio".

For an encore, Shears - wearing something to which the word "boa" wouldn't do justice, flanked by giant Monster Munch creatures, some dancing palm trees and an ostrich - sings "Music Is The Victim" (that line about having "left my bag in Pasadena" always beats The Smiths' "Newport Pagnell" for glamour), then re-introduces Franz Ferdinand, and the nine fellow travellers romp through Bowie's "Suffragette City". Seeing Kapranos sandwiched between Shears and Matronic, yelling "aaah, wham-bam-thank-you-mam!!!" is an unforgettable moment, and I'm on the phone to the tattoo parlour in the morning.

s.price@independent.co.uk

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