Biffy Clyro – What To Expect At Reading & Leeds

In two weeks’ time, Biffy Clyro will step out on the Reading and Leeds stage as Main Stage headliners – a landmark moment for the band, who told NME they dreamed about headlining Reading back in high school, and for the festival, which has supported the trio since the early days. Up against old hands Green Day and Eminem, the question is: can Biffy cut it?

We caught the band at the comparably-sized 80,000 capacity Sziget festival in Budapest, Hungary (8 August), where Biffy headlined the fourth day of the seven day party. Though they’re likely to bring extra bells and whistles to Reading and Leeds, their set held lots of hints about how they plan to slay the competion on the last weekend in August. Here’s how:


Though heavy on material from new album ‘Opposites’, Biffy played a 19-track set that reflects their long career. The band haven’t played in Hungary before, and their set was perhaps a little lacking in the hits department for an audience that’s not watched the band grow. Some tweaking might be required before Reading and Leeds too – ‘The Captain’ wasn’t quite the right song to exit the stage to. The setlist in full is as follows:

‘Different People’
‘That Golden Rule’
‘Who’s Got A Match?’
‘Sounds Like Balloons’
‘God & Satan’
‘Glitter & Trauma’
‘The Joke’s On Us’
‘Spanish Radio’
‘Living Is A Problem’
‘Many Of Horror’
‘Modern Magic Formula’
‘Black Chandelier’
‘The Captain’

‘Stingin’ Belle’


And lots of it. Whooshes of flame illuminated the stage during the apt – if rather literal – ‘Who’s Got A Match’.

NME/Mike Burnell


Plumes of CO2 were used to spectacular effect during ‘That Golden Rule’ where, when combined with flashes of light, it looked like fireworks were going off on stage. Great, apocalyptic blasts of steam were released during ‘Biblical’ and ‘Bubbles’, too.

Streamers, ticker tape, toilet paper

Pow! A giant tangle of toilet paper-like streamers fired into the crowd during a triumphant ‘Many Of Horror’, and again as ‘Mountains’ closed the show. On closer inspection, the streamers were blue and white, which must have pleased the man in the crowd waving a Saltaire throughout the performance.


Like their album covers, Biffy’s backdrop visuals were striking and arty – especially an animation of a heart beating inside a rib cage, which looked like something from a Gunther von Hagens exhibition.


At most Biffy shows, it takes a couple of songs before the boys whip their tops off. At Sziget, in hot nighttime temperatures, they came on in full, shirts-off, ready-to-rock mode. Expect them to do the same at Reading & Leeds regardless of the weather.

Stage presence

Stage banter was pretty minimal and largely unintelligible, but Simon did frequently remind the crowd they were watching “Biffy fucking Clyro”. The performance was intense and energetic – at one point, Simon was in a rock pose so wide he was almost doing the splits.

NME/Mike Burnell

One-off lyric changes

During ’57’, Simon Neil changed the lyrics to “Your beautiful face / Your Budapest face”. Suggestions for ways of working Leeds and Reading into Biffy lyrics in the comments, please.


Looks like they’ve got the chops to tear Reading and Leeds a new one. Bring it on.