Trash-rock trio end their amazing year with a loud and glorious celebration
With rapid faith and devotion on display, a Biffy Clyro show has always been a lot like going to church, so logic dictates that eventually there would be some kind of pilgrimage. And so, the week before Christmas, they’ve invited all their fans and friends (well, as many as would fit) into the favourite of their old stamping grounds for a four-night stand of Celtic Thrash Folk. For the past three, there’s been a full live airing of all three of their albums to date, ‘Blackened Sky’, ‘The Vertigo Of Bliss’ and ‘Infinity Land’. Including tonight’s climax, that’s a superhuman 50-something different songs rehearsed, to be played just once each. And that’s not to mention the magicians, stand-up comedians (hairy Scot Phil Kay) and bagpipers. Bagpipers!
So yes, this week has been pretty special; a celebration of the journey Team Biff have been on these past four years, which this year gathered pace to the point where they played the main stage of pretty much every major UK festival. And as time’s gone on, the prospect of Biffy Clyro becoming a major weapon in the UK rock arsenal stopped being an idle fantasy and became damn-near certain. Which is where tonight comes in. The next record (rumoured to be titled ‘Puzzle’) isn’t even recorded yet, but as a special Christmas gift, we’re getting to hear the songs, upfront and live, for the very first time.
The good news? They’re fucking amazing; the same, but more so. Crazy-ass multi-time syncopated beats (‘Get Fucked, Stud’, ‘Scared Of Lots Of Everything’) are even more so. For those in need of sleek and sexy singalongs, ‘Semi-Mental’ and the bruising ‘Asexual Meat Kitchen’ are wrought-iron rock packed with more soul than the genre’s supposed to contain. Best of all is ‘Who’s Got A Match?’, basically ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ by Abba crashing into ‘Burn The Witch’ by Queens Of The Stone Age in the handy form of a Celtic drinking song. This is the beginning of something; once a camera-shy screecher, Simon Neil has evolved into a charismatic rock prophet as at ease with a gentle folk lament as a Lightning Bolt-issue werewolf howl. The Johnston twins’ rhythm section has powered up to something as ferocious as QOTSA and their heightened vocal harmonies make the poppier tunes sound more than a wee bit like The Futureheads.
Later, plucky competition winner Fraser gets to screech lead vocals on ‘A Day Of…’, and it ends, as all great Biffy shows should, with the euphoric ‘57’, the smash hit stadium-punk anthem that still could be. These weren’t the shows that converted the masses to the ways of the Biff, because everyone here had tears in their eyes already. But come the summer, this will be a week to swear you were there.