I was introduced to Biffy Clyro at one of my first ever musical outings at the age of 16. The outing in question was to Leeds Festival 2005 and me and 2 close friends were those eager kids that wanted to see everything from as close as possible. We had ran to the barrier on the Sunday morning in hope of staying there for the 9+ hours until Foo Fighters arrived to close the festival (which we did!). Little did I know though that 2 bands into the day a Jesus like figure dressed all in white would step out onto the stage and change my musical taste for the foreseeable future. That bearded man was Simon Neil and the band Biffy Clyro. I remember it vividly as my friends older brother actually said something along the lines of "these guys are shit, we'll see you back at the tents tonight, they play every year." How wrong he was.
In 2005 the band had already released 3 albums in as many years, it was their fourth, Puzzle, that rocketed them into the consciousness of the masses. Fast forward to 2012, ten years after releasing their debut Blackened Sky and they've had an album peak at number 3 (Puzzle) and number 2 with Only Revolutions. With this said they've just announced a new double album set for release in 2013 and with that exciting news came that they were added to the iTunes festival at The Roundhouse, London. I was lucky enough to be there.
The chants of "Mon the Biff" echoed up to the historical wooden ceiling 50 feet above as the lights dimmed and the 3 topless gents took to the stage. They opened with their latest track, an album tease in the shape of "Stingin' Belle" and immediately rolled onto "The Captain", at which the crowd cried back "wooooo" with the opening riff. This was my first time at the legendary London venue but I must say the sound was immense and the circular shape meant you were never too far from the action. For a band that have sold out arenas, this was a true treat if you'd managed to get a ticket! The band seemed tighter than ever, 17 years together would probably have that effect as they played a mixed bag of both old and new. "27" from their debut, Blackened Sky, and was played just 3 tracks in and juxtaposed against the first (truly) unheard track of the evening (depending on if you'd seen them at a few festivals last year or in Leeds the previous evening) with "Modern Magic Formula" which was an energetic pulsating track that felt oh so fresh after the more sombre tones of "27".
The crowd was a pretty tame one by all accounts, but you can't expect it to be completely full of die-hard fans given the ticket allocation system yet in the pit they bounced as one at every opportunity to songs old and new. "Bubbles" proved very popular and during the track actual smoke filled bubbles rose from the front of stage popping in a puff of smoke as they reached he ceiling making for quite the spectacle. The crowd was loudest for "Many of Horror", the track enlisted by Simon Cowell last year for the X Factor winner which led to their own version re-entering the charts. Veteran fans and new fans alike sang, shouted and screamed the lyrics back at them.
The set rounded off with a couple of fan favourites but another new one a little earlier had caught my attention. It got me and Kitty so excited we looked at each other at precisely the same time and said "this sounds reminiscent of Blackened Sky/Vertigo of Bliss." Honestly it was at pretty much exactly the same time, you couldn't make this up. Titled "Sound Like Balloons" it was a jangly number from start to finish that had a soaring chorus suited for sing-alongs matched by thunderous sounds of bass and drums intertwined perfectly yet chopped to pieces by the vocal. It reminded me of "There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake" in its delivery erly on. It brought a tingle to my spine and it's only served to build my excitement more for next year's Opposites.
What I liked about the show was the growth. They've had a touring guitarist for several years now but this was the first time I'd seen them introduce an extra pianist for a few songs and the result was a continuation of their ever growing sound. They've had a large power behind them for years, even prior to the additional guitarist for newer songs, but add to that the piano and the songs take on a gargantuan form. A form and sound that is destined for arena domination. A force that we will no-doubt see sell out numerous venues next year. The night draw to a close after 21 songs of pure bliss ranging from their early beginnings and into their future next year. The crowd walked away happy and I was that 16 year old kid again on the barrier, left open mouthed and hyper active at what I'd just witnessed. A musical awakening that would shape my tastes for the coming years. Mon the Bif.