Biffy Clyro light up Manchester

Biffy Clyro (s)
Biffy Clyro (s)

I REMEMBER seeing Biffy Clyro during a sun-drenched afternoon at V Festival in 2009.

Sandwiched between James and James Morrison, the then relatively unheralded Scottish rockers were beginning to ride the cusp of a mainstream wave.

That wave is now bordering on tsunami proportions with their latest album “Opposites” rocketing to number one and a headline slot confirmed for Reading and Leeds later this year.

Chart success may have polarised the band’s more hardcore fanbase but at a packed MEN Arena on Monday, the trio delivered a relentless two-hour set mixing the guitar-thrashing heavy with the sentimental melodic.

A bare-chested Simon Neil cut a desolate figure has he sang the first few haunting bars to opener “Different People” by himself before the stage curtain dropped and the gig exploded into life.

The epic sounding “That Golden Rule” offered no let-up as frenzied guitar riffs and thunderous drum beats carried the crowd through a storming opening few numbers.

Firm favourites “Justboy” and “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” garnered some of the biggest cheers of the night while “Bubbles”, from 2009’s “Only Revolutions” invoked one of the loudest singalongs.

The dark and foreboding stage, dominated by an ominous and haunting tree which morphed into blood vessels, tentacles and pipes depending on the visuals displayed, added to the dramatic and at times operatic atmosphere. And a frequently displayed giant pounding heart was an image no doubt related to by most people there, each soaring chord, each bellowing smash of a drumstick vibrating through your insides.

Pounding hearts and weakening ear drums were given a rest mid set courtesy of the tranquillising “God & Satan” and the stunning “Machines” – a spotlight showered Neil performing both acoustically, showcasing lyrical craftsmanship wrapped up in the rawest of vocals.

“Who’s Got A Match” raised the noise levels (and almost the roof) with flames and smoke thrown in for good measure before the beautifully serene “Many of Horror” and the grand “The Captain” ushered in a mini interval. “Mountains” brought a close to proceedings, sending the 23,000-strong crowd into one last rapturous frenzy.

2009 V Festival seems a long time ago now. And as I headed for the exit and the cold Manchester night, three thoughts kept pushing their way to front of my mind. 1) I still don’t know what the name Biffy Clyro stands for? 2) Why didn’t I wear some winter boots and 3) Reading and Leeds Festival goers are in for an almighty treat come August.