Friday, March 25, 2011
BIFFY CLYRO TEARS DOWN THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL FOR TEENAGE CANCER
March 23 2011
The gilded caverns of the Royal Albert Hall fill with an odd collection of music fans. There's a Nine Inch Nails shirt. Your token balding metal head - complete with Satanic, ram's head t-shirt. And a bunch of mums and dads that look like they took a wrong turn on their way to a Matt Cardle show.
The Xcerts, from Aberdeen, go on first at 19:15. And they're an explosive combination of raw energy and catchy hooks - refined angst, with stadium (or in this case, hall) sized choruses. Like Biffy Clyro and Taking Back Sunday meets The Ataris (with a Kris Roe meets Justin Bieber hairdo). One thing's for sure, Scottish lads can sing. Drummer Tom Heron is a pleasure to watch: gracefully intense and stylishly aggressive.
After The Xcerts, comedian George Lamb, our painful host, appears on stage. "Did you hear Victoria Beckham's pregnant? A little girl. They've just announced the name. Inspired by their son Romeo, they've decided to call her Alfa..." The crowd stares at him in disbelieving silence. "Come on... It was better than that. Come on..." He pleads.
Up next, Glasgow indie four piece Frightened Rabbit's name suits them. "We're shitting ourselves," admits frontman Scott Hutchison, with reddened, teary-looking eyes and a Ron Burgundy beard. Percussionist Grant Hutchison sits in front with the rest of the band, a snare drum between his legs, a set of brushes and a tambourine strapped to his foot. Frightened Rabbit look like a band of buskers that hustled their way on stage. But their soulful acoustic ballads reverberate around The Royal Albert Hall.
During the break, Lamb comes out again. This time he says, "Big news in Jordan. They're thinking of changing the name to Katie Price." Again, silence... Then the Trust shows a moving video featuring two teenage cancer patients sharing their experiences with the disease. Thankfully, Lamb shuts up and let's it roll.
On stage - no shirts, covered in tattoos, beards and two parts ginger - Biffy Clyro look like wild Scottish highlanders. They kick into "The Captain" like wild horses are tearing them apart. Next they launch into "Boooom, Blast & Ruin" and "Who's Got A Match?" And, backed by a retina-frying lighting display, they sound incredible.
Frontman Simon Neil has this intense, no bullshit, Kurt Cobain presence about him, as he does his silly, sultry little moves and climbs the speakers. And I'm sure, in his odd collection of homemade-looking tattoos (and some great ones), I spotted the cover of In Utero near a pair of red lips.
Each band member has a puzzle piece tattooed on their rib cage and there's a great sense of brotherhood to Biffy Clyro. That's why their live guitarist was such an odd fit: he was wearing a shirt, he was in shadow most of the time and he rarely appeared on the giant video screen behind them, unless he was caught in the background of someone else's shot.
During "God & Satan" the standing section's a sea of phones and cameras - the iPhone has clearly replaced the lighter (health and safety). Then Biffy Clyro explode again. This time to "That Golden Rule." And with Neil on his knees, carving it out, and bassist James Johnston attempting to insert himself into his amp, the ending sounds phenomenal.
Re-listening to Biffy Clyro all day before the show, a big theme (besides horses) to Neil's lyrics is the Grim Reaper. The idea that "Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies." Which, in our current surroundings, carries even more intensity.
After "Many of Horror" the band disappears. Then, after an actual gap that makes you wonder and a hall full of fans clapping in unison, they reappear again. "We'll do three more" says Neil. And for some reason, it actually feels like an encore. After "Know Your Quarry," the hall empties. Tonight feels like a good night for humanity.
Check out http://www.teenagecancertrust.org for more info...