Biffy Clyro – SECC, Glasgow, Mon 1 Apr 2013
Simon Neil and co continue to smuggle hard rock weirdness past the arena anthems crowd
Given that Biffy’s ‘Many of Horror’ was (in)famously given the X Factor seal of approval back in 2010, it’s impressive that they continue to plough such weird and hard-rocking furrows alongside their more radio-friendly anthemic fare. Granted, the latter material – including the aforementioned ‘Many of Horror’, ‘Bubbles’ and the inevitable encore rendition of ‘Mountains’ – is the stuff that goes down best with the SECC massive this evening, but credit is due to the trio for exposing their Radio 1 listenership to some things they might not normally see.
Their grandiose stage set-up, for one thing, wouldn’t look out of place at an Alice Cooper gig – a spine-like central column branches out into two bony sweeping staircases, which singer-guitarist Simon Neil and bassist James Johnston scale with frantic energy throughout the set. Jets of smoke burst into life during the angular, punky ‘A Day of …’, while the likes of ‘Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies’ and ‘Picture a Knife Fight’ shake the stands with their ferocity. They also offer renditions of some of their more bizarre output – ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake’ is a scream-along rollercoaster that’s as ridiculous as its title, while the fact that rock’n’roll sea shanty ‘The Captain’ ever made it into the Top 20 is as bewildering as ever.
There’s a die-hard corps of Biffer-than-thou aficionados who bemoan the band’s ascent into the mainstream, decrying what they perceive as an abandonment of Biffy’s earlier, more alternative values. It’s true that their sound has morphed and changed with time, but based on the frenzy with which Neil and co attacked material both old and new tonight, it’s clear they haven’t strayed from their original mission, and are managing to inspire a taste for hard-rocking weirdness one arena at a time.