Saturday, 8 May 2010

Biffy Clyro - Hammersmith Apollo - Thursday 6th May 2010

It's been ages since I last saw Biffy live. Ok, I'm lying, it was only October. I mean, what are they playing at? This is their first UK tour in over six months, utterly ridiculous. Perhaps they should record a DVD at some point so that people like me can watch that in the gap between tours. Oh wait, it appears that they are, judging by the amount of cameramen present at tonight's Hammersmith Apollo gig. This is the first time Biffy have played the legendary venue, perhaps best known nowadays for the BBC's 'Live At The Apollo' which is, you guessed it, filmed at the venue (the clue's in the title). Anyway Biffy are pretty famous nowadays (I know, how times have changed) and therefore can fill venues of this size with consumate ease. Tonight's clientele are undoubtedly far more 'scene' than the people who used to go and see them. Furthermore they even get celebs at shows now...tonight we have all of Watford hardcore act Gallows, plugged so much by NME and Kerrang! that it's reached the point where it's hard to see how they have any punk credential left at all,, Nick Knowles. Yeah, you know, the guy who presents DIY SOS. He's a real celebrity, honest.

Moving on to matters of real importance and vigour, the first support act onstage tonight at the Apollo is Sheffield avant-garde noisecore quintet Rolo Tomassi. They're kind of hard to describe. If you haven't heard them then you should imagine what it would sound like if your house blew up...right now. Then you should add to that image the sounds of smashing crockery, screaming infants and, plus synthesizers. This is a band that's certainly not lacking in originality. However they don't go down well with everyone at the Apollo tonight, possibly because they are, to say the least, an acquired taste. An awesome acquired taste at that. One thing you may not guess upon hearing them for the first time is that the screams and growls that populate much of their vocal output are provided by the sensible looking, petite Eva Spence. Whilst her growls are easily audible, when she slips into angelic clean vocals, they are regrettably lost in the mix. A very nice half an hour set from the band.

Following Rolo Tomassi are Scottish indie shoegazers The Twilight Sad. The barely say a word to the crowd during their set, with singer James Graham being completely wrapped up in the music to the extent that he spends a significant part of the set screaming the words not into the microphone but from the edge of the stage, with eyes closed, directly to the audience. Their sound owes a lot to the likes of Arab Strap and Aereogramme and Graham's unmistakably Scottish voice shines through above Alan McFarlane's fizzing guitar. Although they may well be a little understated for many of the people here tonight, this is a fine performance from a great band that you should all check out.

By the time Biffy Clyro come onstage the crowd is ready for them. Joined onstage by Oceansize guitarist Mike Vennart really helps them flesh out their live sound, with Neil still playing the lead parts but with Vennart making the songs sound as real onstage as on record. As per usual, 'That Golden Rule' kicks things off in some style. It drops like a bomb with bodies flying within seconds. The band barely take time for breathers in this ninety minute set dominated by cuts from 'Only Revolutions', highlights including the visceral 'Shock Shock' and the anthemic 'Whorses'. Simon pummels his guitar into submission like there's no tomorrow while Ben batters his drum kit into oblivion and James grooves away all over the place. Mike, meanwhile, dances around and yells out the words with a passionate zeal that makes him popular with the crowd, even though they haven't a clue who he is (their loss). Indeed, my attempt to get a "Mike Vennart's a legend" chant going fails horribly. Whilst the newer songs are impressive, the oldies are still the best. 'Bodies In Flight' is the behemoth live I have always dreamt it to be (I have been waiting SO long to hear this, my favourite Biffy song live, that it's a relief to finally hear it. If only they'd played it twice) and 'There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake' twists and turns as perfectly as ever. A double whammy of 'Convex, Concave' and 'The Captain' ends the night in fine style. Bring on the arena tour in November/December!

Rolo Tomassi - 8/10
The Twilight Sad - 8/10
Biffy Clyro - 9/10

Biffy Clyro setlist
That Golden Rule
Living Is A Problem
Glitter & Trauma
Shock Shock
Who's Got A Match?
God & Satan
Bodies In Flight
Born On A Horse
Saturday Superhouse
A Whole Child Ago
There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake
Many Of Horror
Cloud Of Stink
Convex, Concave
The Captain

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