Biffy Clyro headlined the opening night of Leeds Festival tonight, proving the promoters right in picking a relatively new and unproven headliner to close the event.
Stepping onto the stage already topless, the band tore through ‘Different People’ and ‘That Golden Rule’. Confident, calm and (most importantly) really, really loud nerves were calmed and with a massive audience of devoted fans to play to, the rest was plain sailing. Frontman Simon Neil held the audience in rapt attention, joking around at one moment while getting visibly emotional during ‘Folding Stars’ the next. Old songs like ’57’ and ‘Questions and Answers’ were brought out, “for the fans who were here in 2000”, while newer anthems such as ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Many Of Horror’ drew mass singalongs. The latter in particular proved, as if it was ever in any doubt, that Matt Cardle’s cover of the song for The X Factor and the ensuing furore have been banished from the Biffy history book.
Dipping into their older material illustrated Biffy Clyro’s inextricable links to Leeds Festival, something their fellow headliners Green Day and Eminem simply do not have. Having played on seemingly every single stage in the past 13 years, this performance felt like a band rising to the top rather than simply displaying their already proved popularity. As ‘Black Chandelier’ turned into ‘The Captain’ and flames burst out of the stage, Simon Neil climbed to the top of the huge recreation of Storm Thorgerson’s artwork for the band’s latest album ‘Opposites’. If ever proof were needed that Biffy Clyro deserved to headline this event, that was the moment. Then Neil went the full Cobain and smashed his guitar in half on the stage.
Though festival veterans themselves, seeing Biffy headline a festival as big as Leeds was refreshing. Like a breeze running through the whole music scene and reminding us that you don’t have to have been around 20+ years to make people care about your songs at 11pm at night in a big field. Here’s hoping that other festivals take heed of Leeds’ brave booking and invest their cash in the future of music, not the past. If it generates sets as passionate and exciting as Biffy Clyro’s tonight, nobody will regret it.