Biffy Clyro – Dundee 14/10/2019
Written by Music on 17th October 2019
“I got a heart, I got a reason, to love you all, every single person,” Simon Neil sings on ‘Spanish Radio;’ a relatively deep cut from Biffy Clyro’s now revered 2013 ‘Opposites’ album. These lyrics encapsulate perfectly the sheer joy and appreciation going both ways during Biffy’s barnstorming performance in Dundee on Monday. With a surprise-filled set spanning the length of their career, the band of Si, James, Ben, Mike and Gambler deliver emotion, aggression and eclecticism in a way that only they can. But before all that are openers Another Sky.
South London’s Another Sky were lucky to make it to the gig. Their van broke down so many times on their way up that they very nearly cut their losses and went home. Thankfully for the audience packed into Dundee’s Caird Hall they didn’t however, as their blend of Cranberriesesque grunge-folk and Mac Demarco-like indie-rock proves an enchanting start to the night’s proceedings. ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Apple Tree’ are highlights of a thoroughly impressive set. This lot are one to watch for sure. Now onto Biffy!
Bursting onstage in a haze of strobe lights, tattoos and distortion, the eponymous single of their recent soundtrack dalliance ‘Balance Not Symmetry’ already feels like a mainstay in the live arsenal of a band with too many bangers to count. Its staccato verses and thumping, melodic chorus invites the baying crowd to squeeze further towards the stage and fully engage right from the off, as if they needed inviting.
Living’s a Problem (Because Every Dies) follows, leading to a huge singalong chorus which sees the audience being, wait for it… bathed in white light.
The special thing about Biffy is their ability to jump between different stages of their career, touching upon vastly different sounds but still managing to make the set flow perfectly. This is evident in the early double header of Ellipsis’ ‘Howl’ and Infinity Land’s ‘Glitter and Trauma.’
‘Sunrise’ also from the band’s new soundtrack effort, shows expertly the balance (pardon the pun) that the band have struck between their more feral roots of old (see Glitter and Trauma) and their more pop-based new sound. (Howl being a prime example). From the menacing, extended dual guitar riffage at the start, ‘Sunrise’ develops into more of a shimmering, anthemic pop song before diving back into heaviness again towards the end. This kind of songwriting is why Biffy have and do stand the test of time. They are clever, bold, never boring and constantly looking for ways to take risks.
‘Fever Dream’ also illustrates this with its lofi-electronic start which builds into an emotional distortion-laden crescendo, seeing Simon ask repeatedly, “Where the f*** is god?”
The anthem that is ‘Different People’ brings the crowd back into singalong mode as twins Ben and James take vocal duties on the chorus.
It had been teased all night simply by Simon’s facial expressions when shouts of “Jaggy Snake” were heard from the crowd and those old school fans finally got their wish when Simon began his unhinged “no such thing as a what?” routine. The ‘Infinity Land’ classic showed anyone who thinks Biffy have become ‘too-pop’ that the boys can still scream with the best of them and “take extra special care” in doing so. Ben Johnston’s drumming deserves special mention on this one as he absolutely stole the show. There were also pits aplenty for!
The main set is rounded off by, you guessed it, a cover of Matt Cardle’s, no wait that’s not right, Biffy Clyro’s very own ‘Many of Horror.’ Yes, it’s well-worn, and no, it’s no die-hard fans’ favourite anymore but it’s a damn good way to round off a triumphant set in front of the Dundee faithful.
The encore sees a surprise outing for energetic ‘Ellipsis’ opener ‘Wolves of Winter’ as well as a tear-jerking rendition of ‘Puzzle’ ballad ‘Machines’ before the night is rounded off by the ever-rocking ‘Stingin’ Belle.’
If anyone was questioning whether or not Biffy could still go as hard after last year’s run of acoustic shows then Monday was a resounding dismissal of those doubts. As Scotland’s very own international rock powerhouse it really does fill you with national pride to see them up for ‘Best Band in the World’ at the Q Awards in London as well!
If I had one gripe it would be the lack of material from their debut album ‘Blackened Sky.’ Even one or two songs from this album would really have sealed the deal on the whole career-spanning set that they seemed to be laying out for the audience.
As for everyone being led out the Caird Hall by the overly officious security (the one other downside to a near perfect night), they know that it’s a rare thing to get such an up-close and personal encounter with one of the nation’s great bands. It was a privilege to witness the Biff at full throttle in such an intimate setting and whether I’ll ever have the chance to do it again remains to be seen. Barrowlands 2020 anyone?
Speaking of 2020, unbelievably next year marks Biffy Clyro’s 25th year as band. That being said they seem to only just be getting started.
They are Biffy F*****’ Clyro and they’re here to stay!
Thanks to Mackenzie Burns for writing this article.