Gig review: Biffy Clyro, Glasgow, 4 stars

It has been a big weekend for Biffy Clyro, headlining the Reading and Leeds festivals and, sandwiched in between, their biggest ever (sort of) hometown show, a mini-festival which one sensed was the bigger deal for the band, at least emotionally.

Biffy Clyro. Picture: Contributed
Biffy Clyro. Picture: Contributed

Biffy Clyro | Bellahouston Park, Glasgow | Rating ****

Main support act Fall Out Boy are well used to such large outdoor gatherings – and it showed in their perfunctory performance, enlivened only by a troupe of circus fire performers. This American four-piece are a pop band in alternative rock clothing; Biffy, on the other hand, were brain-frazzlingly heavy, gratifyingly weird and all action from the get-go.

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Their opening salvo, Wolves Of Winter, packed about three song ideas into one, encompassing their main musical characteristics – metal riffing, punk angularity and lusty rock singalongs. Like their fellow power trio Muse, Biffy have expanded their performance to stadium proportions without sacrificing the eccentric twists which are uniquely theirs. There was something almost demonic about the choral call-and-response vocals which kicked off Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies, frontman Simon Neil’s howl of grief.

In a set in which the “old school” grunge power of 57 sat beside the scathing “new school” Friends And Enemies, their more considered, tuneful festival fodder numbers could not compete for sonic interest beside the jagged Who’s Got A Match?, ferocious On A Bang and mighty 9/15ths.

And yet the big singalong numbers were just as, if not more popular with the crowd, whose rendition of Many Of Horror – by far the best of the soaring ballads – was declared by Neil to be “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard”. Avoiding anti-climax, this was swiftly followed by catchy bubblegum rocker Captain and a pugnacious Stinging Belle, accompanied by a volley of fireworks which were hardly required given the dynamism which had gone before.