The decision to have Biffy Clyro close out this year’s Isle of Wight Festival was a ballsy move. As the heaviest act on the entire bill, they ran the risk of threatening the festival’s family-friendly reputation. As it turns out, a little bit of math-rock disruption was the perfect way to bring everyone together and end on an almighty high – even with a bit of real blood flowing.
Opening with the title track from their adventurous new soundtrack album ‘Balance, Not Symmetry‘, it’s obvious just two songs in that frontman Simon Neil and co didn’t come to play games. As the hammering chords of ‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’ fade out, we see that the nose of Biffy’s intrepid frontman has taken a bit of a knock and is gushing with blood. Only concerned about making a mess of his canary yellow suit jacket, off it comes – and anyone who’s seen Biffy before knows that tops don’t last long with these guys.
“We’ve been locked up in the studio for six months. It’s good to get out and play for you,” says Neil – and you can tell. It’s a relentless machine gun rattle of wonky rock bangers.
The set is a full tour of The Biff’s weird and wonderful world. ‘God & Satan’ slows things down for a brief moment of respite, 2002’s ’57’ delights die-hard fans in the audience, and ‘Born On a Horse’ and ‘Bubbles’ are welcomed en masse by the open arms of fans of their latter breakthrough material.
— ill Will (@officialillwill) June 17, 2019
“Be careful getting home because there’s something in the air,” Neil tells the crowd. “George Ezra fucked his ankle. Jess fucked her voice (although the official line given as to why Jess Glynne was a no-show for her Isle of Wight set was exhaustion). I’ve fucked my neck. So be careful.”
Then he adds: “Use a johnny.”
After playing a two-song encore of ‘Machines’ and ‘Stingin’ Belle’, Neil screams: “We are Biffy fucking Clyrooooooooooooooooooooo!” – their familiar battle cry. By far the best performance at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival, there’s clearly merit in keeping these rock beasts caged for a while before a big show.
Biffy Clyro’s setlist:
‘Balance, Not Symmetry’
‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’
‘God & Satan’
‘Born On a Horse’
‘Who’s Got a Match?’
‘Wolves of Winter’
‘That Golden Rule’
Many of Horror’