Light and shade in a live set is a delicate balance between the rambunctious in-yer-face stuff and the more chilled tracks, such as acoustic numbers. Especially if you are filed under “rock”.
Biffy Clyro certainly are a rock band and one of the best on the planet right now. So, when they add two violinists to the line-up for part of the set of an arena tour, a fair few pair of eyebrows may well have been raised.
Do you blast the fans with mosh pit fuel all night or if you sling in some calmer cuts, will you lose the momentum, and will the crowd lose interest and nip to the bar?
Well tonight, Biffy answered those questions with a masterclass in how to pace a set so you score a bullseye with every single song, and still manage to cut down the BPMs and deliver some quieter, calmer moments while holding the attention of close to 16,000 fans.
A faultless performance across 20 songs in a glorious set from the Scottish stars tonight at the sold out Resorts World Arena in Birmingham, the fifth stop on an eight-date tour. Architects as opening act. The tour kicking off in Leeds and calling in to London’s 02 arena tonight (Saturday 12th November), then Cardiff and Bournemouth to end the trek.
In the wake of a triumphant headline performance at this year’s Download Festival at Donington Park, their second headliner there, Biffy Clyro are having a good year. On this their 11th tour since forming in 1995, they give fans songs from their 2021 album, “The Myth Of The Happily Ever After”, 2020’s “A Celebration Of Endings” and a deep dive into a lot of their nine-album catalogue.
Six of their albums have reached Top five in the UK album chart, and their sixth, “Opposites” gave them their first number one album. Three consecutive studio albums (Opposites, Ellipsis and A Celebrate of Endings) peaked at number one in the UK official albums chart.
Frontman Simon Neil is in good voice and as energetic as ever, and the addition of the brace of fiddle players (classically trained violinists hate being called fiddle players, by the way!) later in the set underlining the more chilled moments, adds huge value to the vocal, and they graced some of the more dramatic tracks too.
Bass and drums from the twins: James and Ben Johnston, were the engine room of this rock juggernaut as usual. Another example of the light and shade theme is Neil’s versatility with his vocal instrument between the rockier stuff and the laidback material. You get a mighty roar or a gentler noise coming out of those powerful pipes to serve the song.
There are rock bands out there who cannot pull off the change from the powerhouse rock and the ballads side of a live set, let down by the vocals; with the singer finding it hard to pull right back and when doing so, losing the balls and power. Not so here with Mr Neil.
They open with “Dum Dum”, “A Hunger in Your Haunt”, “Tiny Indoor Fireworks”, “Who’s Got a Match?” and “Black Chandelier”. The main set closes with “The Captain” before a one song encore, “God & Satan”. One of the newest tracks in the set is the superb “Unknown Male”.
High spots of the set included an emotional rendition of “Machines”, “Living Is A Problem As Everything Dies” and a lovely falsetto-soaked “Re-arrange” with backup vocals from the twins. “Wolves Of Winter” and “Mountain” kept the moshers happy. I particularly enjoyed the superb performance of “Who’s Got A Match?”.
The one thing Biffy have nailed from the outset as a band is the ability to craft commercially successful anthemic rock which is ready made for radio, and for arenas and stadiums. But not just volume merchants; the lyrical content and topics their songs cover always have credibility. Notching up five number one singles in the UK chart so far.
If you have not yet seen this, it is a must if you are a Biffy Clyro fan: released in February 2022 on Amazon Prime, an hour-long documentary about Biffy Clyro and the making of “The Myth of the Happily Ever After”. The film is titled “Cultural Sons of Scotland.”
The production for this show tonight added to the sense of occasion; superb lighting and visual stimulants, the sound quality top notch and if you were up in ‘the Gods’ or back of the hall, on the barrier or in the centre of this vast hall, you got the best audio possible.
Nice to hear material from most of their nine studio albums, especially from “Only Revolution”, “Puzzle” and Opposites”. As usual at one of their gigs, there were regular shouts of “Mon the Biff” from the fans, as they came on stage and between songs.
It was double delight tonight with not one, but two top notch rock bands on stage. Architects are the opening act on this tour, the British metalcore band from Brighton, formed in 2004 by twin brothers Dan and Tom Searle. The band now consists of Dan Searle on drums, Sam Carter on vocals, Alex Dean on bass, Adam Christianson and Josh Middleton on guitars.
In 2011, for their fourth album, Architects went in a more melodic post-hardcore direction with “The Here and Now”. Next album “Daybreaker” they went back to their original style before sixth album “Lost Forever // Lost Together” in 2014, which was widely praised.
Soon after the release of their seventh album, “All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us”, in 2016, guitarist and principal songwriter Tom Searle died after three years of living with skin cancer, making Dan Searle the only original band member.
“Holy Hell” was their first album recorded without Tom Searle, released in November 2018. Their ninth studio album, “For Those That Wish to Exist”, was released in 2021 – their first chart-topper on the UK Album Chart. Their current and 10th album, “The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit”, was released in October 2022.
Their rousing 10-song set was a very, very fine start to the proceedings tonight and they are a perfect fit as support act to Biffy, and well worth catching live in their own right. A fair few Architects’ tee shirts in the crowd among the Biffy hoodies.
Nice to see the venue rammed for both acts and not half empty for the support as is often the case in these big arenas.
Both bands gave a great account of themselves here, but Biffy’s performance was worthy of any huge stadium, or a headline slot at the biggest festivals in the world.
I think “mighty” sums it up well – and confirms that their star is most definitely still on the ascent even after 27 years on the road and having played to millions.
“Mon the Biff” – and soon please!