Music review: Biffy Clyro, Hydro, Glasgow

Ranging from ferocious aural assaults to acoustic interludes, this homecoming gig was an emotional rollercoaster, writes Fiona Shepherd

Biffy Clyro, Hydro, Glasgow ****

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Biffy Clyro can rock with the best of them. There were ferocious moments in this homecoming set, such as the fuzz bass and nosebleed drumming pincer attack from the Johnston twins, James and Ben, on End Of – a mic drop moment to match the song title.

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These bursts of sheer athleticism were dynamically deployed rather than thrillingly relentless, because Biffy have other strings to their bow – including actual strings to actual bows. For this tour, Biffy have added two violinists to their line-up, often backing up frontman Simon Neil on his acoustic interludes but also on hand to ramp up the melodrama on their grandest moments.

Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro PIC: Andy Buchanan / AFP via Getty Images
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There is a smart sense of scale here, with Neil flipping from a whisper to a scream, from a fragile admission to a chest-beating war cry at a nanosecond’s notice. He may be dressed like a fashion forward Angus Young in bold patterned jacket and shorts, but he’s no rock dinosaur nor rascally schoolboy. Much of the set involved Neil sharing his negative headspace – not in the traditionally nihilistic metal tradition but with relatable frankness, especially on the moving Machines.

According to Biffy’s first law of rocking dynamics an emotional low must be countered by a cathartic high. The mighty Mountains and Wolves of Winter both provided the invincible flipside, while the deceptively dark infectious pop punk of Tiny Indoor Fireworks was followed by the burn-it-down-and-start-again sentiments of the groovy Who's Got a Match?

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They saved their most satisfying tunes for the romantic sentiments of Re-Arrange – sung in falsetto with the twins as the back-up Supremes – and the sky-scraping Many of Horror. But just in case the audience felt too comfortable there was always the teasing eccentricity of Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies as a reminder that Biffy Clyro contain multitudes.