It’s a bitterly cold night outside the Birmingham O2 Academy, and for a lucky few, this is the second time seeing Biffy Clyro in a few hours. The band played an acoustic set at HMV in the city centre at 5pm and the paper wristbands given to the 300 hardcore fans who queued all day to get them are now worn in the line snaking along the front of the venue like a badge of honour.
Inside, some 30 minutes after the doors open are the increasingly popular Pulled Apart By Horses. Those who made the effort to queue in the winter weather got to see one of the UK’s most promising talents on a stage worthy of their potential. The Leeds 4 piece have only been around a little over 18 months and have released just a few singles and an EP but have greatly impressed fans and critics alike. They deliver a short 30 minute set with power, pace and some great musical riffs alongside some incredible mountaineering skills as guitarist James scaled the stage-side PA system to launch himself off it mid-song.
Although the band got a lukewarm reception to start with, by the time they left the stage their high tempo set and the odd shout of “Mon The Biffy!” and a high-5-fest had the crowd fully onside. Expect great things from these guys!
The fastest stage-change in history takes place and some 15 minutes later the now near-full venue welcomes onstage Manchester Orchestra. It’s not surprising to see them on stage supporting Biffy Clyro, they’ve notched up some impressive support berths in their history, having supported Kings Of Leon and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club as well as some heavyweight festival appearances where they’ve given a very good account of themselves.
Launching into “I’ve Got Friends” the crowd started singing along and you realize that the Atlanta 5 piece are already known to many inside the O2 Academy. You get the impression that nobody wanted to miss their set, positions have been gotten long in advance of their introduction to the stage and it’s valued real-estate. It’s nice to see a band offering something a little different, and MO’s 2nd drummer / keyboard player Chris really do go down a storm, his seated one-man moshpit inspiring some equally mental crowd participation at the front. Rolling into “Shake It Out”, “Pride” and the stomping “Everything To Nothing” their 5 song set is over far too soon and ends with a blistering rendition of “The River” which leaves the crowd wanting more but time constraints are against them and their 30 minutes are up. Comments from those around me were that they could have been given an extra 10 minutes, with both support acts being given the same time slots and without any disrespect to Pulled Apart By Horses, Manchester Orchestra really are in a different league and maybe deserved a little longer to showcase their talents.
Niggles aside, it’s time for the headliners. By the time the lights go out, the chanting has been going for a good 5 minutes and it’s impossible to move. I’ve never seen the O2 Academy so full. It’s rammed from the front row to the bars at the back and all the way to both walls on either side of the venue.
Without pomp, circumstance or intro tape Biffy Clyro take the stage. There are no fancy gimmicks for the whole set, barely a word mentioned between songs, which is probably how they fitted 24 songs in.
The set, which starts with “Golden Rule” and flies straight into “Living Is A Problem” — starting a 30-metre inadvertent mosh pit. As everyone is so tightly packed together, if the person to the side of you starts jumping, you do too, it’s certainly one way to cure the coldness from standing outside!!
The lights seem to be causing the technicians a few problems for the first few songs but the band don’t miss a beat and cruise through a 90 minute set causing the whole crowd to do Birmingham proud and show the boys from Scotland there’s plenty of love for them south of the border.
The whole night long, Simon’s vocals are crisp, tight, and with backing vocal duties roundly shared by James and Ben you really can see that the next tour deserves to be in a bigger venue, not only for financial reasons, more people deserve the chance to see such an excellent band live. Hopefully the boys won’t lose any of their appeal if they do decide to upscale next time around.
In a world of pyrotechnics and supergroups pulling every rock clichÃ© out of the bag it’s nice to see Biffy Clyro bringing things back to basics and making the show about the music and little else. The cd tracks which feature horns and strings such as “The Captain” are devoid of any hint of backing track, a nice touch, as the stripped-back sound really does carry more power live.
It’s not just the music that’s stripped back, by the time the encore rolls around all 3 of the boys are shirtless and sweating like crazy. Finishing off their set with the fans’ favourite “Mountains” you really do feel this is the last chance you’ll get to see such a huge band in such a small venue.
1) Golden Rule
2) Living Is A Problem
3) Whole Child Ago
5) Who’s Got A Match?
8) Born On A Horse
9) Get F*cked Stud
11) Now I’m Everyone
12) Cloud Of Stink
14) Love Has A Diameter
15) Jaggy Snake
16) God & Satan
17) Glitter & Trauma
18) Liberate The Illiterate
19) Saturday Superhouse
20) The Captain
21) Joy. Discovery. Invention
23) As Dust Dances
Review – Matt Pargeter
Photos – Katja Ogrin