Naked is en vogue. From royalty to rock stars. It’s everywhere. In the convivial, studio-like atmosphere of the Roundhouse, the semi-naked, tattooed, trio from Ayrshire, take to the stage, bathed in blue light, to adoring chants of “Mon the Biff!”
After years of complicated stop-start song structures, screaming vocals and relative obscurity, their eventual crossover was straightforward; less complexity, more showmanship. Apropos fewer clothes and up the charts they went.
After the success of their most recent album, ‘Only Revolutions’, and subsequent tour, the band have been recording their forthcoming double album, ‘Opposites’, and in an efficient, chat-less set, they litter the early stages with new singles from the album.
Opener, ‘Stingin’ Belle’, packs a trembling bass, thundering drums and a huge chorus. On ‘The Joke’s On Us’, the jerky indie-style guitar suggests the band aren’t about to return to their early, more acerbic hard-core roots, but instead intend to expand their new arena straddling status.
No complaints from the fully dressed crowd there. ‘The Captain’, soars with massive “woah-oh-ohs” over crunching guitars to appreciative cheers, and the band settle into their signature loud-to-quiet approach.
Slow numbers, ‘God & Satan’, and ‘Machines’, expose their trite lyricism, but generally vocals are sung with such conviction that all is forgiven. Even the frequent gaps between their infectious melodies, make perfect sense, leaving plenty of space for hard working guitar and drums fills.
Mid-set, the mid-paced ‘Bubbles’, is the cue for a series of harder songs, and curious School of Rock effects, with the release of giant bubbles, rising before bursting into clouds of dry ice. The super fuzzed guitars and screaming vocals of ‘The Golden Rule’ loosen the audience’s shackles further, drawing waves of frenetic crowd surfing, and probable shoe-loss.
On encore, ‘Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies’, the drum intro and staccato guitar note builds to a crescendo of noise, accompanied by more clouds of steam, before the band close with the soaring, epic grandeur of their MTV hit, ‘Mountains’, leaving a sated crowd to muster any lost garb. Biffy 1 Clothes 0.
Words by Simon Owen
Photo by Natalie Seery