Live review: Biffy Clyro at London’s O2 arena

Romilly Mavin is impressed by Biffy Clyro’s mingling of energy and intimacy at the close of their UK tour

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Source: Natalia Bus

The Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro close their UK arena tour at the O2 in London, following the release of their most recent album Ellipsis. Supported respectably by New York band Brand New’s mournful vocals throughout the tour, the band showcase their polished performance- but not to the point of artificiality, instead maintaining a rawness of emotion and a huge sense of gratitude towards the spectators.

The show opens with one of Biffy Clyro’s latest singles, ‘Wolves of Winter’. Before they begin to play, the trio stand motionless and face out into the immense crowd of the O2, peacefully preparing for the task at hand. Ear-splitting screams ensue from behind us as the eerie, echoing first lines begin.

The gig doesn’t really get started, however, until the lead singer Simon Neil, smiling, begins the opening strums of ‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’. Anticipation builds as these strums seem to extend eternally; the crowd is desperate for the seductive first line “Come on baby do you”, but are teased instead with yet another climax.

Following the relentless noise of ‘Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave’ Neil is handed an acoustic guitar; there is a sigh next to me as a girl states matter-of-factly “well fuck, now I’m going to cry, aren’t I”. Grinning I turn my attention back to Neil who ascends to a high point at the centre of the stage and begins ‘Medicine’, a song taken from the most recent album. The crowd is given a moment of respite from the intense energy that inhabits many of the band’s songs and it seems too that Neil settles for a moment. There is a deep sincerity that contrasts the almost manic excitement that possesses the lead singer in the upcoming ‘Animal Style’. He prowls back and forth across the stage, twisting his body around his guitar; the band’s bare skin and intensity on stage does seem to make them animalistic.

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Throughout, the band accommodates the vastness of the crowd, moving across the stage and continually changing levels; whilst Ben Johnston remains central on his drum kit, Simon Neil and James Johnston move between platforms. Nearing the end of their set the two Johnston brothers leave the stage and the audience is treated to another acoustic performance from Simon alone, this time a rendition of ‘Machines’. The lead singer somehow creates the feeling of intimacy one expects from small gigs, not from an audience of 20,000, as he comes to the edge of the stage and explains that we are to “sing this next one together”.

The closing night of Biffy Clyro’s Ellipsis tour is truly spectacular. Whilst maintaining a strong set-list in terms of beloved older material (from the like of Puzzles and Only Revolutions), there is clearly a celebration of the new. The band showcases the highlights of their most recent release; and songs such as ‘Howl’ and ‘People’ fit comfortably among the likes of ‘Bubbles’ and ‘The Captain’.