Biffy Clyro - Bristol Colston Hall
It’s “election eve” in Bristol and call me an old romantic but it’s tempting to think that poor old Gordon might be spending his last hours as Prime Minister here in the company of Biffy Clyro. They have a lot in common y’see, although whereas the dour Presbyterian cloud which hangs over Gordon is perceived as a fundamental weakness, for Biffy it is a badge of honour. Walk into the venue and the first thing you clock is a sign pinned to the merch stand – No Credit Cards. No Carrier Bags. We’re Scottish right… it exclaims. Which is, to be fair, the most eloquent exclamation the band make all evening, restricting themselves to a couple of briefly muttered Hello Bristol, it’s good to be back during their ninety minute set. The sight of a flustered looking young girl optimistically trying to sell ice-creams to the front row clashes starkly with the bands austere aesthetic, but it’s heartwarming to observe the culture clash thrown up by the choice of venue.
The last time I saw Biffy they were on the arse end of a triple bill in Barfly and times have certainly changed. They enter the arena to the fading strains of country music and proceed to pummel the expectant kids, and they are mostly kids, with a double whammy of ‘That Golden Rule’ and ‘Living is a Problem’. There’s no time for costume changes and so the fabulously tattooed Simon enters the stage as semi-naked as he leaves it, leading the band through an incessant battery of jagged rock which abates briefly mid set as the crowd take over and lead him, bathed in hellish red light and clutching a gorgeous Stephen Stills like White Falcon, through ‘God and Satan’ and a soaring rendition of ‘Mountains’. The overall effect of which is disarmingly similar to Big Country, albeit with some titanium bollocks, whereas ‘Bodies in Flight’ tips musical convention on its head with an unprecedented prog rock take on the angular post punk at which the band excel.
Oh, wait, there was a bit of ‘banter’ along the way: Say hello to Mike says James pointing into the stygian gloom at an unfamiliar guitarist who’s joined them on the road and who lurks in the murk having been denied his own spotlight (sad face). They may have fewer interpersonal skills than the Prime Minister but the crowd don’t seem to mind, and who can blame them when Biffy Clyro can inspire such magical moments as the communal singalong joy of the majestic Many of Horror and then follow them with the immense power of set closing ‘Whorses’ which threatens to set light to the auditorium. Now, who’s got a match?
All images copyright Steve Burnett