Monday, 11 June 2012
850 BIFFY CLYRO, Pure Love, Swindon Oasis Leisure Centre, Friday 8 June 2012
Given the extent to which Biffy Clyro have risen in my estimation over the last couple of years – from mostly ignored metallic noiseniks to hooky, anthemic hard rockers, inviting favourable comparisons to the likes of Seafood, Foo Fighters and even (dare I say it) Husker Du – it was inevitable that we’d be up for any future Biffy tomfoolery. So when I casually browsed the NME website and found out the Biffsters were planning a one-off show to bed in some new material from their forthcoming CDs, I thought, hmmm, where do Rach and myself have to travel to now? London? Birmingham? My jaw then dropped with a clunk onto my desk when I found out they were playing the frickin’ Oasis! The Biff! 20 minutes walk from our front door! AND on a Friday at half term, when we could get Evan down for the gig as well! Scrivens!
However, securing tickets wasn’t as simple as all that. Despite our O2 priority codes, we could only get 2 of our required 3, before the presale sold out. General sale was a joke – all websites either crashed or froze for half an hour, so I, forlornly, gave up, texting Evan that he’d unfortunately be missing out. However, a chance lunchtime call to the Oasis itself later that day revealed they, amazingly, still had a handful on sale, so I gleefully snapped one up and made a fledgling 14 year old rocker a happy boy again.
So it was that we three took a wander down the cycle path, leaving the kids with grandma and hitting the sold out but quiet early doors Oasis bar at 7.30; Rach in a state of high excitement at the prospect of seeing her current (and ongoing) band crush at such (relatively) close quarters, Evan a little bemused, not really knowing what to expect from his first rock gig proper, and me just glad I got to take him to one at last. We wandered in the busy sports hall for 8, for opening act Pure Love. Led by former Gallows frontman, the tattooed but dapper suit-jacketed Frank Carter, they thankfully eschewed the full-on punkish yet incoherent hardcore sonic assault that was the Gallows template, in favour of some much more palatable anthemic bluesy rockers, in a swaggering Clash/Smiths vein. “Quite a different direction for me, as you might have noticed,” announced an affable Frank, and all the better for it, in my view! “Handsome Devils Club” had a chuntering Urge Overkill Californian bluesy sleaze stomp to it, then Frank abandoned the stage to sing a few numbers in the belly of the mosh, pitching up at one point a couple of yards from us! The final number, which Frank pushed as a “Summer Festival anthem,” featured the no doubt bastardised line, “there’s a riot on the streets of Swindon,” nevertheless capping an impressive set from a band – and man – who tonight made me sit up and take notice.
Had a wander over to the crowd fringes, stage left, in search of a decent eyeline, before the lights dimmed and the Biff took the stage at 9 pm sharp, to, rather cutely, the refrains of “Feeling Groovy”, and against a stage set-up of shards of suspended triangular mirrored glass, and a huge tree backdrop. No messing; straight into “Mountains”, a titanic opener with the frenzied crowd already singing along, and the communal vibe resonating around this large sports hall. “Golden Rule” followed, a superb double gut-punch to kick things off, before a frantic newie “Modern Magic Formula” proved they’re really not mellowing with all their current success. A singalong, 50’s ballad style “God And Satan” slowed things down a tad, before a savage “Get Fucked Stud” raised the temperature once again. So this was the Biffy plan tonight; lull the crowd int oa false sense of harmonic security, then smash them into submission with some savage but thrilling modern rock’n’roll. And it was executed to perfection, a case in point being the silly clip-clop rhythm of “Born On A Horse”, being followed directly by the determined groove of a thrilling “Boooom Blast And Ruin”, a set highlight, as the Biff repeatedly delved into their 2009 breakthrough “Only Revolutions” CD (for a warm-up gig to bed in new material, there was a marked paucity of such, with only 4 or 5 newies scattered throughout the set).
“This place is hot in the way only a place with a swimming pool next door can be,” remarked white boiler-suited vocalist Simon Neil, who despite regretting his choice of attire didn’t hold back, with an energetic and kinetic performance throughout. “Folding Stars”, a mid-paced anthem with a Biffy trademark huge chorus, was followed by another all-inclusive singalong for a jagged, ragged “Who’s Got A Match?”, providing a perfect metaphor for the performance; “I’m a fire and I burn, burn, burn tonight…” indeed! Then, the 3,000 capacity sang as one to the imperious ballad “Many Of Horror”, providing a soaring, spine-tingling mid-song moment. Set closer, the Seafood-esque ”Bubbles” was another communal singalong, the thunderous guitar hook climaxing a superb set perfectly.
The Biff boys were fulsome with their compliments for Swindon (nice to hear!) during a 3 song encore, which was capped by a final “Captain”, oddly the set opener the last couple of times we’d seen them! However this worked as a closer, with the terrace chant “whoa-oh”s once again resonating around the sports hall and sending everyone home elated. A well timed run down the front and some politeness secured me a set-list (yay!) and we ran into our friend Penny, which was a happy exclamation point on a superb night. A fine first proper rock gig for Evan – who’d been singing and clapping along throughout – and another damn fine set from a band rapidly proving worthy of the prefix, “The Mighty…” Yup, The Mighty Biff well and truly rocked Swindon tonight, no messing!