April 4, 2011
Live Review: Biffy Clyro
Royal Albert Hall, London, 23rd March
You should never look back: you’re likely to trip over your laces, step in front of the oncoming car, regret the things you haven’t done rather than the things you have, etc. But it’s unavoidable as a long-standing Biffy Clyro fan when you find yourself watching your band headlining the Royal Albert Hall with the memories of them unable to get arrested at Manchester Roadhouse still daisy-fresh in your memory.
First things second, teenagers with cancer are a tragedy, and the work of the Teenage Cancer Trust is inspirational. It goes without saying that the fee for this review will be donated. But even in the shadow of that, this show is inspirational all by itself. Charged with the power of curatorship, Biffy have hand-picked the line-up and they’ve chosen the all-Scottish players well: the stop-starty The Xcerts and the insanely moving Frightened Rabbit. There’s almost nothing new we can say about the Biffy live experience. The ‘Only Revolutions’ campaign has seen them whored out so long and so hard and so sexily that, for their own sake, they really need to go away for a bit now. So tonight is one of tiny revelations. Like the fact that while ‘Bubbles’ is the poppiest song of the new canon, it also holds the most old-school Biffy moment they’ve done in years. Like the fact that they now have so many songs they can (just about forgivably) overlook playing ‘Justboy’. But also, that this band are still so committed to their catalogue that they will dig out the tears-of-Batman grunge requiem ‘Hero Management’ and the pile-driving torch song ‘Hope For An Angel’, regardless of the fact that 93 per cent of the crowd don’t know either of them.
Yes, Biffy Clyro as a huge band still feels a new and strange phenomenon. It will only feel newer and stranger when they come back next time with
a double concept album based around the twin concepts of Venus and Uranus (ha!) or whatever. But they remain this nation’s most vital rock outfit. They got some ‘sell-out’ shit for not exercising their non-existent power to stop The X Factor purloining their song. Even if you subscribed to that lousy logic, tonight provides so much of whatever-the-opposite-of-sell-out is (buy-in?) that somewhere, a hat falls to the floor as Matt Cardle winks out of existence.
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