Sunday, 6 February 2011

802 BIFFY CLYRO, The Futureheads, London Wembley Arena, Saturday 4 December 2010

Rachel got Biffy Clyro in a “band swap” with a new similarly music-minded work colleague, and suddenly they became her new favourite band! To be honest, they’d been skirting around the extremities of our musical radar for some time, but I’d personally found them at best formulaic jagged hard rock, in a Seafood meets Foo Fighters vein, and at worst post Nu-metal grunting rock pigs. However recent CD “Only Revolutions” revealed a more melodic, anthemic edge, so we took an opportunity to get tix. The first surprise was; Wembley Arena? If they are that popular, whatever happened to Seafood’s Wembley Arena gig??

Weather-affected tube closures necessitated our booking an expensive parking slot directly at Wembley, so we set off at 5.15 in trepidation of a crap journey; however it was pretty plain sailing and we parked under the shadow of Wembley Stadium just after 7! Result! We settled in to our seats, in the gods, stage right in this cavernous c. 10,000 capacity aircraft hanger, and awaited with no great relish the support.

Second surprise, The Futureheads were actually quite good! I was kindly disposed to them anyway, as they took the stage to Cheap Trick’s “Good Evening Ladies And Gentlemen”, but they delivered a good, energetic performance. Musically, they’re still stuck in the jerky new wave, 1st album XTC rut, but unlike a few years back, these days not every band sounds like that, so their sound almost felt like a quaint, anachronistic curio. The call and response in their best number, their cover of Kate Bush’s “Hounds Of Love” capped a surprisingly enjoyable set. As Rachel put it; “I’ve seen worse support bands – The Futureheads, for one!”

A roadie hoovered the stage between bands (!), as I noted that my knowledge of the headliners and the size of the venue were inversely proportional to each other! Finally, the Biff took the stage at 9, stripped to the waist and revealing apparently “unpleasant” tattoos, to the anthemic “Captain”. They were here to rock, with second number in, “Booooom Blast And Ruin”, a lean and mean amphetamine rush, and my favourite, the Seafood-esque “Bubbles”, following in short order. Making few concessions for the size of the venue, the Biff played a straight-ahead rock gig with few frills, occasionally anthemic and sing-along (particularly the early set, which relied heavily on their recent, best CD), occasionally just plain noisy, but generally much better than I’d feared. I also found it telling when the 3-piece Biff gathered around the drum riser for their older numbers, as if trying to shrink the stage.

There were moments of light and shade amongst the rock; “God And Satan” was delivered by vocalist Simon Neal in an almost 50’s ballad style, and an acoustic interlude was surprisingly tender and Idlewild-like. One number featured the lyric, “take the pieces and build them skyward,” which almost seemed a metaphor for this band. Ultimately, they’re a good honest rock band, who’ve paid their dues, and got where they are now through sweat and hard work, rather than hype, so fair play to them!

And a quick exit too – we left halfway through the penultimate number, and zoomed out of the car park, arriving home 1 hour 15 minutes after leaving our seats!

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