Biffy Clyro review – vital return for the Renaissance men of rock

Sheffield Academy
Back on the road with a new album, the Scottish trio are packing their stadium-sized rock into smaller venues, to thrilling effect

When it comes to contemporary, chart-bothering rock, Biffy Clyro – back in the Top 5 this week – are perhaps Britain’s most unique example. The Scottish alt-rock trio bring together scabrous guitar riffs, quirky rhythms and frontman Simon Neil’s feral vocals to thrilling effect, packing all this and more into a sprawling, 23-song set here.

Originally booked for April, a six-month postponement for this tour allowed the band to put together new album The Myth of the Happily Ever After, that they say is a reaction to their previous release, 2020’s A Celebration of Endings. New songs DumDum and A Hunger In Your Haunt are received as voraciously as staples Mountains and That Golden Rule. In keeping with the spirit of the evening – part of a tour of relatively intimate venues – the band do away with the latter’s prominent string section, but their audience is more than happy to follow Neil’s lead and sing the parts themselves.

Biffy Clyro are no longer the dissonant, post-hardcore outfit that started in Kilmarnock in the mid-90s, but their heavy credentials remain. Errors In the History of God builds nicely towards an extended version of its crushing, sludgy outro, and Unknown Male 01 is quintessential Biffy: flapping, down-tuned riffs flanked by jazz hand verses and soaring choruses.

Such is the hulking volume that erupts through the room during Wolves of Winter you could quite easily be watching the band at the city’s arena three miles up the road. Underrated sibling rhythm section James and Ben Johnston are to thank for that. They’re crucial once again during Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep, where dreamy synth passages make way for a hypnotising, thrashing crescendo.

The only thing louder than the deafening roars that greet Bubbles is the near-constant chanting of “Yorkshire” and “Mon the Biff” throughout. 2022 will no doubt see the band return to arenas and a slew of festival headline slots, given they still offer something few other bands do: brains and brawn in equal measure.

At Kentish Town Forum, 2 November; Guildhall, Southampton, 3 November; Academy, Bristol, 4 November.


Chris Lord

The GuardianTramp

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