Sound: What with all live Biffy tracks I've seen on the web I was expecting nothing short of a spectacular concert, and man was I blown away... Simon Neil took the lead as always singing with his beautiful yet rustic voice that was pitch perfect, which is an achievement in any case, let alone whilst playing the guitar and rocking out. Whilst the songs played weren't exactly note for note symmetrical to the album, they were in no way worse off. Personally, I think live music is always better when it sounds like the album, but Biffy got it spot on, with a few flourishes and the odd mis-leading instrumental intros to keep the crowd on its toes.
Simon may be the front man to this 3 piece band, and some may say he is God, but even God needs a helping hand once in a while. Having layered tracks on the album, it presents a predicament to a band with just one guitarist, and to help out was a seriously under rated and highly skilled backing guitarist. And my one problem with The Biff lies here: they in no way seemed to pay enough gratitude to this man, as in to say; they didn't even introduce him... If anyone knows who it was let me know. Please.
Enough about Simon however, the Johnston twins were, undoubtedly equally incredible. Providing a solid bass line and drums whilst adding their hauntingly elegant backing vocals on many an occasion, they proved why Biffy Clyro are one the most talented new bands in the UK. // 10
Perfomance: As a fan with a fairly solid knowledge of their entire back catalogue, it has to be said that I felt the more mainstream' tracks were played, with almost all of the new album 'Only Revolutions' making an appearance in the set list. And I'm sure that I wasn't the only one that thought this. To quote my friend Sam's comment having just told him there was a crowd of 11,000 people in attendance "really? And only 10 knew jaggy snake" ('Jaggy Snake' an 'alternative' track from the album 'Infinity Land'). The show was definitely aimed more towards the newer fans than those who know they have more than two albums. However, some of the favourites from the old albums were played, the set list looked like this:
The Captain - A brilliant opening scene, easily mistakable for something from a Pink Floyd concert, in which projections of an anonymous army of silhouettes marched the band in, before they launched into the single bar riff followed by the crowd and band alike screaming 'WOO'. The stage backed by the sails of the the captains ship.
Booooom, Blast & Ruin - The second track played from the 'Only Revolutions' album. Another crowd pleaser and definitely maintained the same energy.
57 - A personal favourite from their 2002 album 'Blackened Sky', and Manchester's first taste of the real Biffy Clyro
Bubbles - for those that know that know "There's a girl, there's a girl, there's a girl, there's a girl, and she's down by the river". A favourite from this album personally.
Born On A Horse - A glimpse back to past albums on 'Only Revolutions', a reminder just how random Biffy can get.
God & Satan - A beautiful track that really brought the crowd together, from 'Only Revolutions'.
Whorses - Another 'Only Revolutions' track not a favourite but definite crowd pleaser overall.
Joy.Discovery.Invention - A jump back to my personal favourite album. The quite intro almost drowned by screams from the old-school Biffy fans. A very surreal backing of the album artwork from 'Blackened Sky' projected onto the prior mentioned sails. The lyrics "Take me to your Blackened Sky.." rang out throughout the huge venue, a spine tinglin moment I personally wont forget.
All The Way Down: Prologue Chapter 1 - "Joy.Discovery.Invention' left the crowd subdued with emotion, and paved the way for this touching track. With Simon Neil showing us the delicate vocals and versatility, with James and Ben providing an equally delicate and emotional backing. The real reason anyone should truly love this British band.
That Golden Rule - With the crowd awestruck from the previous tracks, it was going to take something big to kick start the crowd, but not worry, because Biffy had just the track. With the recognisable opening riff, Simon, James and Ben had us swarming with excitement after with just seconds.
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies - The first of six songs from 'Puzzle' maintaining the energy of round two, as it were. By this point a small mosh/slam pit had emerged front of us.
Shock Shock - An mildly confusing prelude which could easily have been a new song, and that caused heads to turn to each other in confusion, only for the one question on all the faces to be answered by the intro of "Shock Shock" which again had the crowd bouncing.
9/15ths - With the risk of killing off the crowd by means of violent moshing or dehydration the guys played on, this time with another track from 'Puzzle'. A slightly gothic and eery vibe to this song gave an interesting atmosphere, with the crowd raging, there might as well have been a witch atop a bonfire, being burnt at the stake for magical misdemeanours.
Folding Stars (Simon Neil solo acoustic) - after a silence of sorts, as much a silence is possible at any concert, Simon appeared with an Acoustic strung high across his chest and strolled down the catwalk to the mic. After a chat with the crowd he beautifully plucked the intro to a favourite track of mine from 'Puzzle'. A deep and heartfelt track that calmed the crowd and brought us together in unity, with 11,000 fans singing in unison to the chorus and verse alike.
Diary of Always - A striking song from the second album 'The Vertigo of Bliss', all three members assembled themselves at the end of the catwalk, where a drum kit and keyboard had risen from below. The haunting vocals of James and Ben over which Simon sang a near accurate rendition of the album version. An emotional track accompanied by a surreal projection of the three in a Queen like formation behind them.
Machines (Simon Neil solo acoustic) - The most popular song from the entire concert, certainly the most videoed, a harmonious and slightly refrained Acoustic take on the last track from 'Puzzle'. As a chandelier of Edison style bulbs of different sizes, descended around Simon, alone again at the end of the catwalk, he captured the attention of everyone, and most were dumbstruck for words, other than to sing along. An awesome version of the song that will most likely sum up the concert for most, with an image of Simon Neil surrounded by the soft glow of the chandelier.
Who's Got a Match? - to follow the last track and still end on a high, would be something of a challenge to most bands, but not for Biffy, and to get the crowd revved up, what better song that this. Within moments the crowd were re-energized and ready to go.
Saturday Superhouse - Maintaining the 'Puzzle' theme "Saturday Superhouse" stood up to it's title other than to have perhaps got the day wrong, because it sure was one hell of a superhouse in there.
Know Your Quarry - Once again The Biff returned to 'Only Revolutions' where perhaps a trek to the back catalogue might have fitted better.
There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake - To contradict the last track, as if Biffy had read my mind and that of many others perhaps, they threw in a favourite and most definitely a weird track. Featuring lyrics such as "JA JA, JA JA JIG AH!". Were it played a track or two earlier, might the crowd have and more energy to join in? Or maybe it was too much of a throw back to the old tracks for such a 'Biffy-virgin' crowd... A track from the under-rated album "Infinity Land".
Many Of Horror - A track I wouldn't perhaps have chosen to end on, maybe because of the over-use of 'Only Revolutions' tracks. But perhaps a simple clue to the fact that this was clearly not the end...
Glitter and Trauma - The opening track "Infinity Land" proved to be an ideal opener for the return encore. Returning to the stage, just moments after leaving, to the heavy synth, before launching, seemingly tirelessly into the under-rated track from the under-rated album.
Justboy - A touching track from 'Blackened Sky' that flowed perfectly from the end of the last track, and seemed to begin our descent from the high of the entire show.
As Dust Dances - "There's a man on the corner, selling dozens of bones" says it all really. The last of the tracks from 'Puzzle' and a seemingly slow end to the concert....
But of course:
Mountains - Biffy Clyro are nothing short of big when it comes to things, so it was fitting that they end things on their biggest song. A awe-striking finale, that left us content. For, whilst we wanted it to go on forever, this was the ideal ending to it all, and we sure as hell were satisfied and tired.
Despite a few alterations I would have made and the over-use of 'Only Revolutions' (which I had expected so doesn't really count), this was truly and amazing concert!
Highlight of the concert: Simon Neil solo Acoustic version of 'Machines'. The image of that chandelier and Simon will remain vividly in my head for a very very long time. // 10
Overall Impression: UK, North West, Manchester, Manchester Central, 3rd December 2010.
Support acts included a band by the name of 'Holy State' and 'The Futureheads' both from the North East of England; they both followed suit with Biffy Clyro's Status and both were equally as 'different' in their own ways as Biffy are in theirs.
As I have learnt with all gigs and concerts, when the big names play; the venues rack up the prices, so I never bother buying any booze, but from what I have heard Manchester Central were no different to any other charing above the norm price for a pint.
On the other hand the concert was the best value for money you can get for any modern band. At 20 a ticket and a 2 hour setlist of 25 songs, it was extremely good value.
The venue itself was smack in the centre of Manchester, and as an old converted railway station in such a location, it was huge. I'm unsure of its maximum capacity but there were 11,000 in attendance for Biffy. I would definitely return here, and hopefully see the Biff here again, perhaps after their next album.
Overall all I can say is: MON THE BIFF! MON THE BIFF! MON THE BIFF! MON THE BIFF... // 9