Tuesday 2 September 2014
Last night at my dreams came true.
In the form of three topless bearded Scotsmen, no less!
Biffy Clyro have been my favourite band since I was 15. I finally got to see them live last night. This was the first time the band has played in New Zealand, their performance at Rhythm and Vines in 2009 having been cancelled due to illness.
Biffy Clyro have packed out Wembly Stadium, headlined some of the UK’s biggest music festivals, and toured with rock heavyweights such as Foo Fighters and Muse. Despite this, they are largely unheard of in New Zealand. Not that this was evident last night, with the Powerstation at full capacity, brimming with diehard fans yelling their trademark chant: “Mon the Biff!” (Mon being an abbreviation of “come on”).
The band made a grand entrance. They stormed the stage to a frenzied pre-recorded Scottish shouted chant, one sounding rather like a Maori haka in my mind. If the chant wasn’t enough to rev up to crowd, opening song ‘Different People’ from Biffy’s latest record Opposites made sure to finish the job. The song has a slow build up, but every person in the crowd knew that after a few minutes the band would reach a verse and let loose. And let loose they did.
The show was saturated in energy. The musicians threw themselves around the stage with abandon. The anthems were huge. The ballads soared and the heavier songs were explosive.
“We’re monning as much as we can!” front man Simon Neil shouted to the crowd, “This is our first time in New Zealand, so we’re going to play some older songs. If that’s OK?” The band then played ‘Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave’ from their 2004 release Infinity Land. This was the first time they’d played it in seven years.
And that wasn’t the only treat for the crowd. The set list was well balanced, drawing from material old and new, acoustic and electric. There was even a B-side thrown into the mix. My personal highlight was ‘57’ from the band’s debut release Blackened Sky.
It was impressive how talented the band was. Each of the three members (front man Simon Neil on guitar, and twin brothers Ben and James Johnston, on drums and bass, respectively) shared vocal duties. Also onstage were two touring musicians helping to fill out the sound (Mike Vennart on guitar and Richard Ingram on keys). When five musicians can play weird time signatures like that without missing a beat you can tell they’ve had a lot of practise. Just listen to the ‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’ and you’ll understand exactly what I mean. They had clearly spent a lot of time tightening up their playing to get that unified.
It was obvious that most of the audience were long time fans. You don’t usually see that many people singing along with the band at a show, especially when the lyrics are as off kilter as Biffy’s. But the fans were all singing along, many waving Scottish flags about. Vennart, the rhythm guitarist, even changed from his suit into a red kilt that a punter had thrown onstage.
It was a special night for Biffy Clyro fans. It had been a long time coming, but the band more than made up for the wait.