Gig review: Biffy Clyro at O2 Academy Sheffield
“I need a moment just to take all this in”. Not the words you expect to hear from a million plus album selling, arena playing rock band in a much smaller venue in Sheffield, but for Biffy Clyro bassist James Johnston it was the cumulation of a lockdown period which saw the Kilmarnock band issue two new albums, amongst the mire of cancelled tours and live dates.
The relief of hearing a packed room, chanting the band’s war cry ‘Mon the Biff’ and leading the anthemic parts of their more familiar tracks was palpable.
A short tour of smaller UK venues, it was as much an experiment to explore live all the tracks from both recent albums, but particularly The Myth of the Happily Ever After, as it was to re-engage and re-energise, before tackling their more familiar fare of filling arenas and festival headlining. Some tracks will likely make it onto the new setlist, A Hunger in Your Haunt and Errors in the History of God sounding like old favourites, The Pink Limit (despite it’s astonishing opening bassline) and Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep not adding a great deal to proceedings.
The familiar Biffy tracks stood out as would be expected, they have a plethora of choruses to pick through, the crowd doing a lot of the heavy lifting during Many of Horror and Golden Rule, even singing the guitar parts to the latter. Some bands are exposed by playing smaller venues but Biffy Clyro were the opposite, apparent as it was what each member brings to the band. The backing vocals from the Johnston brothers on bass and drums allow Simon Neil’s vocals to soar, creating those choral moments.
Closing the set with Cop Syrup is a divisive choice, on one hand it’s one of the heaviest tracks Biffy have, the versus rapped with such venom, on the other the long middle almost prog rock section isn’t the energetic set concluder to send everyone bouncing off into the Yorkshire wind and rain. Its precursor Black Chandelier would perhaps have been more adept.
But none of that matters, this was an evening for a band to recapture its groove and for a passionate audience to reconnect and find their voices. And both came to pass. Biffy Clyro already have a summer of 2022 festival dates in the diary as well as a European tour, UK dates are bound to follow so if any reaffirmation was required, nights like this will have delivered.