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Mainstream Biffy

Approaching winter down under, it was predictably crisp in Melbourne this past Wednesday night as approximately 700 people waited to enter The Hi-Fi Bar and Ballroom, to see Scottish Alt-Rockers Biffy Clyro strut their stuff. While I know some gig attendees prefer to be surprised with who are supporting the headline act, this night proved why I am exactly the opposite. Unannounced, local post-rock quartet These Hands Could Separate the Sky appeared and proceeded to open up with a 10 minute instrumental. Considering Biffy Clyro’s newfound gain in popularity, the support could not have been more poorly chosen. I am definitely no post-rock expert, so these guys could have been the greatest band of all time for all I knew. However, the fit was bad and the lukewarm response they received proved it.

Post-Rock...Ugh!

Following a rather long tuning session of all instruments by 2 roadies, the Scottish trio finally arrived on stage to anything but a lukewarm reaction. Raucous is a more appropriate description as Biffy Clyro tore straight into my #4 song of 2009; ‘That Golden Rule’. Even more energetic and frantic than the studio version, the symphonic finale was barely missed since the guys worked like a well-oiled machine all night to produce a stunning musical accompaniment to Simon Neil’s rapid-fire, pleading howls. For the following hour and a half, one could not help but be extremely impressed by the front man’s ability to pull off all kinds of sounds on his multitude of guitars, while also singing away as if his life depended on it. In fact, much respect should go to the band for playing these 21 songs as if they were an unknown band who had just released their debut LP. 

Sheepdog Simon

While the setlist (see end of blog) admittedly lent towards ‘Puzzle’ and ‘Only Revolutions’ a little too much, Biffy Clyro are far from the mainstream rock band that many would lead you to believe that they are. Sure, the photo-shoot at the top of this page suggests so, but have a look at the scruffy beard and shaggy dog fringe that Simon took out on stage. Between-song banter was kept to a minimum (partially due to the thick Scottish accents) and it is an under-statement to suggest the trio produce one hell of a loud racket. And let’s not forget the human art show that Simon is, immediately appearing with no shirt on, and occasionally showcasing some plumbers crack!

Nice Plumber's Crack

Scruffiness and tattoos aside, this night was all about the music… And on that basis, Biffy Clyro blew Melbourne away. From the unpredictably fabulous ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ to the sing-along ‘Mountains’, and from the decade old ‘Justboy’ to the call and response acoustic harmonies of ‘Machines’, Neil and the Johnston twins hardly put a foot wrong on stage. Furthermore, with five albums behind them, they now have a quality set with genuine depth that they can call upon to easily fill 90 minutes. In fact, the only reason they do not play any longer is that this trio do not call on any help throughout their show; no additional guitarist or keys/synth players… Just 3 guys rocking the fu*k out until sweat is flying everywhere. Thoroughly recommended, Biffy Clyro are a rock band that put on an exceptional live show… In fact, it is right up there with the best that I have seen… EVER!





DaveyBoy
05.24.10
'MON DA BIFF

DaveyBoy
05.24.10
Can everyone see the setlist? Sometimes it's there for me & sometimes it's not. Might depend on your Operating System.

AntonioMontana
05.24.10
I can see it! It's a miracle!

All kidding aside, I haven't heard about this band but the song names are awesome.

StreetlightRock
05.24.10
This is such a cool write up.

DaveyBoy
05.24.10
Biffy's song names & lyrics are awesome. "I pronounce it allie-min-eee-m because there's an I next to the u & n".

Thanks Alex. I actually put less time & thought into this one than my previous write-ups.

DaveyBoy
05.24.10
Meant to be m, not n... I think.

Titan50
05.24.10
To see them live would rule my face

Nice to see Jaggy Snake in the setlist, one of my favourites

yetanotherprofile
05.24.10
Wow it seems they have realised people have who have liked them for years are fed up of only hearing Puzzle. They played 1 track not off it at reading. This is a pretty damn good set list though.

AliW1993
05.24.10
Probably the best band I saw last year, can't wait to see them again. Great write up as expected.

EVedder27
05.24.10
Cool write up Davey.

Was supposed to see these guys with Manchester Orchestra, but they didn't show up for some reason

AliW1993
05.24.10
Manchester Orchestra were supporting Biffy when I saw them, they were excellent too. The other band was Pulled Apart By Horses they were pretty meh.

DaveyBoy
05.24.10
Titan, I don't think they'd ever take jaggy Snake off their setlist. Simon enjoys his opening psychotic screaming way too much.

yetanotherprofile, I would hope & expect them to play different sets for different audiences. festival crowds definitely have to be adjusted for. As I am more preferential to their last 2 albums, I obviously didn't have a great deal of problems with this setlist, but they could have easily replaced 2 songs each from Puzzles & Only Revolutions and added 4 from their first 3 albums. I had no issue either way.

Thanks Ali. And thanks for your info & opinion on them before I even bought the tickets.

Thanks Mike. If that gig was late '09/early '10, both Simon and James had medical procedures that had to be done. This gig was actually a postponed show from January.

EVedder27
05.24.10
Oh that makes sense. The show was in late March.

bodiesinflight57
05.24.10
@DaveyBoy: Jaggy Snake is far from a regular in Biffy setlists nowadays. Glitter & Trauma is the only old song that is pretty much always played.


Glad you enjoyed the show. People ask me why I've seen Biffy 15 times...it's just because they're SO AWESOME live

DaveyBoy
05.24.10
I'm not going to argue with you considering your user-name bif57. In fact, I just checked a setlists site & you are right. So I stand corrected. Both Jaggy Snake & Glitter go very well, that's for certain.

15 times! Wow! But I know why now.

bodiesinflight57
05.25.10
Haha, 15 times is quite minor compared to some. They have fans who have been following them since the beginning and have been to like 100 shows!

If you ever need any Biffy setlist info, visit our little fan project: http://biffierthanthou.com/mediawiki-1.11.0/index.php?title=Main_Page

DaveyBoy
05.25.10
Biffier than thou sounds great.

I just hope they come down under more often now, as (you'll correct me if I'm wrong) I think this is only the 2nd time.

bodiesinflight57
05.25.10
3rd time down under I believe :P



yetanotherprofile
05.25.10
DaveyBoy

In relation to my last comment; whilst I do agree with your statement about adjusting for different audiences; Biffy that year (08 Reading), far from mixing up the set list to keep everybody happy (not everyone in that audience wanted to here material almost solely off Puzzle), they only played 57 from a combination of their other cd's. That was it.

From somone who has the others albums, regardless of what my fabourite ones are/were, that realy pissed me and my other mates who had come to see them. I mean it was like saying, "screw you lot, we'v made it into the big time, so we dont need you, and we are only going to play the material that the average Radio 1 listener knows". I lost the faith pretty much after Puzzle was played to death, and my feeling were confounded after their last single. Where is the power? aggression? Ingenuity?.

I still like them, just, but there is no hero worshipping any more from me, or my mates.

This set list is excellent though.

DaveyBoy
05.25.10
Knew you would correct me B.I.F. LOL.

Understandable yetanotherprofile. If they did only play 1 song from a non Puzzle album, then that was definitely a strange choice. I wouldn't have took it personally myself, and I can assure you that their live set still has a lot of power, aggression & ingenuity. Well, at least the live set they just played anyway.

yetanotherprofile
05.25.10
Humm. The they played the set which annoyed me realy well, just nothing for fans of their other material. Oh well.

DaveyBoy
05.25.10
I can only think they totally misread their audience.

mutatedfreek
05.25.10
What was the post rock like?

DaveyBoy
05.25.10
" I am definitely no post-rock expert, so these guys could have been the greatest band of all time for all I knew. However, the fit was bad and the lukewarm response they received proved it."

There were a few vocals here & there, but it was mainly heavily delayed & reverbed guitars on top of a pretty decent rhythm section.

mutatedfreek
05.25.10
Ehh sounds fairly generic, still might give them a listen.

bodiesinflight57
05.25.10
With regards to the Reading '08 set, I can understand your disappointment but at a festival you've got to play your hits and all Biffy's hits then were off Puzzle and Mountains. It's a disappointing setlist if you're an old time fan but if not it's what you want. Biffy have continued to include a decent amount of old material in their sets for actual headline gigs (albeit not as much as some of would like!) and I think that's the most important thing. And they still care a lot about their old fans, believe me! 3 of the downright nicest and down to earth people I'll ever have the pleasure of meeting

yetanotherprofile
05.25.10
mutatedfreek

They're good, start with the first album and make your way up. Virtigo Of Bliss is the best imo.

Bodiesinflight

You mention at festivals "they have to play their hits", well they have plenty before Puzzle arived as i'm sure you know. We were not the only ones going "what the fuck? They were purely promoting their album and playing for newbees. It was a sad day.

However it seems they have started incorporating their old material in current gigs which is good- I dont dislike all of their new material, I just think they have lost the edge and motivation to make stand out albums, which was what made them so interesting and successful. It's now just easy going, safe, mainstream pop music.

bodiesinflight57
05.25.10
They weren't hits mate, they were songs that barely scratched the surface of the UK's music consciousness. They may be much better than the newer stuff but 'hits' are things that a crowd at a festival would likely know and 85% of the crowd watching Biffy then would never have heard anything pre-Puzzle, I don't like it any more than you do but that's the truth. Out of an 11 song set they played all their popular chart songs at the time and 1 oldie to signal that they knew there were a few old fans out there. That's what bands do at festivals pretty much unless they're huge enough to be able to get away with playing anything.

And they never stopped playing old material at their headline gigs! And their new stuff may not be as alternative as their old stuff but most of it is hardly pop music!

DaveyBoy
05.26.10
It's finding that balance that is so difficult to locate. You both have valid points. Any time I see a band at a festival, I know they're gonna leave off a song that definitely should be in their set. One of my faves Anberlin pretty much play none of their slow songs at festival gigs & play about 5 of them on headline shows.

"It's now just easy going, safe, mainstream pop music." I totally disagree with all 4 descriptions on this statement, but the argument has been had elsewhere, so I'm not gonna take it up here.

yetanotherprofile
05.29.10
Soz for being a bit late getting back to this!

Bodies

You do know they were on the main stage before Puzzle came out as well? Granted they were underground compared to now- but loads new them before then as well. Anyway this could be a never ending debate! I do agree of most of what you say- but it just felt like they were taking a dump on their old fans- and there were plenty in that crowd as well as new listeners, who were disappointed.


bodiesinflight57
05.29.10
Yes I do know that. That doesn't change anything. If you get more popular then you have to play the songs you think the crowd are most likely to know when it comes to festivals, and that's what they did.

And for every person in that crowd you were in who knew all the old stuff there will have been at least 3 who didn't know. That's pretty much what it's like at their headline gigs these days! And yet they still throw in some old ones when it would be much easier for them not to do so.

There are actually very few bands who care as much about their fans as Biffy so I think you're being very harsh.

DaveyBoy
05.30.10
"And for every person in that crowd you were in who knew all the old stuff there will have been at least 3 who didn't know."

I definitely had that feeling at this gog as well. It would have been a quiet crow if they played too many oldies. As I said before, it's all about finding the balance... And I think we all have agreed that any past issues have been smoothed out with that setlist above.

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