The Biffy Clyro juggernaut rolled into Sydney Town on their first headlining tour of Australia. Opening band Calling All Cars were probably pretty good, but I wasn’t paying attention. I know, I know, but a) I didn’t get a media pass, I paid for this show with some of my finest Australian dollars, b) I’m not a fan of what they do and c) my fiancé and I were at the show with my cousin and her boyfriend and we hadn’t seen each other for a good couple of months. We spent Calling All Cars’ entire set catching up and reminiscing about the time I fell off a high ropes course and when six of our cousins, the oldest being about eight at the time, ran off into a forest at night that was experiencing a population explosion of dingoes. Have you ever tried to catch six hyperactive seven-to-eight year olds who think you’re playing Spotlight at night in a forest full of hungry wild dogs? That will haunt me to the day I die.
Anyway, Biffy Clyro hit the stage HARD. Opening predictably with ‘Different People’, the sing-alongs were deafening because it seemed that almost everyone in the crowd was a British expat. They followed up ‘Different People’ with the thrashy ‘That Golden Rule’ and mega-hit ‘The Captain’ and I was starting to get really cross with the man in front of us. Okay, listen up: Biffy were playing at the Enmore Theatre. The venue has a sloped floor, the theory being that no matter where you stand, you can see what’s going on (the havoc that standing on a downward slope wreaks upon your back notwithstanding). Unfortunately, some giraffe of a man with shoulders broader than a Toyota Hilux decided to stand directly in front of us (the son of a bitch looked back at us a couple of times and smirked, too). For context of how enormous this man was, I’m six foot two, and he was blocking half the stage, and I had, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, ‘the high ground’.
Thankfully, there are three certainties in life: you’re taxed, you die, and concert crowds move around like a Labrador in a puddle. He moved, and we had one of the best views in the house. He moved just in time too, because Biffy chose that point to play ‘Joy.Discovery.Invention.’, one of my absolute favourite songs of all time. I very nearly cried, because I am a ridiculous fan boy. They gave a lot of love to their older material (their Vertigo of Bliss album didn’t get any love, but it’s probably their least accessible album, so it’s understandable), playing classics like ‘57’, ‘Glitter and Trauma’, ‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’, and even a surprise rendition of ‘Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave’! It was surprising to see that many people there had no idea what they were playing at certain points, including Lord Doucheington in front of us.
Unfortunately, being a rock and roll show in Australia by a Scottish band with an audience of Aussies, Scots, Poms and (especially) the Irish, a lot of people had overestimated their ability to hold their liquor. One girl in front of us collapsed about four songs into the set, which is just too early to be that soused. There was also a lot of bad behaviour in the pit, but except for Gregor Clegane in front of us, most people in our area were fairly polite, even apologising when they bumped into us. Crazy, right?
As for the band themselves, well, they were sublime. Now, I say this with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality: Simon Neil is a beautiful, beautiful man. Mind you, he needs to be when the other two official members are blazing red heads. He had the second most amazing jeans I’ve ever seen – bright pink. I say second most, because #1 goes to bassist James Johnston, who was rocking a bright floral pattern. He also downed an entire bottle of what looked like Guinness on stage, which is kind of awesome and also kind of a dick move considering his twin brother Ben, right behind him on the drums, is a recovering alcoholic. Ah well. They absolutely killed it, tight as my father’s wallet and as passionate as a Parramatta Eels fan when they’re winning games. ‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’ is one of the most technical rock songs ever written, but they nailed it.
They were also pulling a Green Day, with Mike Vennart playing the tricky guitar bits on side of stage so Simon could do his live thing. Two things about Mr. Vennart, though. First, he isn’t merely a stage prop. He jumps around and really gets into the music, putting on a hell of a show in his own right. Second, while the other three were up there shirtless and wearing hilarious pants, he was in a three-piece suit. Why are session players always such snazzy dressers?
Anyway, the biggest sing-along of the night belonged to ‘Many of Horror’ and they finished the set proper with ‘Bubbles’ (the highlight of the night for me was when I noticed drummer Ben mouthing the ‘Bubbles’ guitar riff at one point during the song), before coming back on for their obligatory encore. Simon kicked it off with a solo rendition of ‘Machines’. Apparently a lot of people don’t know that song, because you could barely hear Simon over everyone chatting. Shut up, guys!
Finishing off with ‘Stingin’ Belle’ and, of course, ‘Mountains’, they covered every possible aspect of a live show and absolutely gave the two thousand attendees their money’s worth. As far as live shows go, this one was pretty much perfect. A great band, with great sound in a great venue, playing a great set to an enthusiastic crowd. Cheers, boys.
That Golden Rule
Sounds Like Balloons
Who’s Got a Match?
Victory Over the Sun
Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave
God & Satan
Glitter and Trauma
Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies
Many of Horror