Roads are blocked, cars left stranded, and public transport has ground to a halt. Sheffield's a bit of a hazard thanks to the rather unjust March snow, but this doesn't stop Biffy Clyro, and thousands of loyal fans, from flocking to Sheffield Arena. The show must go on.
Wading through in our wellies (a first for any indoor gig) we're shocked to find the arena full. After snow ploughs, shovels and for some a long trip, there's a huge pressure for the Scottish trio to deliver like never before.
Within in a huge structure detailing the human body, frontman Simon Neil appears bare chested, unassuming on stage, a lone figure playing the first notes of ‘Different People’. After the first drum beats the rest is a blur. Bodies throng towards the front as lazers, smoke and strobes take over. The harshest Biffy basher can't help but appreciate these songs that have been quietly dominating the airwaves for the past decade. ‘Bubbles’, ‘Many of Horror’, ‘The Captain’ and ‘Black Chandelier’ all become anthems like the perfect playlist unravelling for us.
In this vacuous arena it's easy for alt-rock groups to disappear among flashy lights and little else, but after taking a leaf out of Muse’s book it's clear Biffy are making a statement. Their radio-friendly hits become huge, turbulent waves of intricate guitars and note-perfect vocals, without becoming an aggressive mess. Simon and James become an awesome duo, strutting down catwalks, playing up to the huge bone-themed set.
The band are dismissed for an acoustic version of ‘Machines’ and while Simon stands alone at the end of the stage, the venue suddenly shrinks as the mayhem drops and we reflect on the hard work Biffy have put in to reach to this point. We don’t have long to reflect, however, as ‘Who’s Got A Match?’ bursts to the extreme with burning visuals, smoke and enough strobe to question the band’s new direction. Album tracks intertwine with the hits and we're left in a daze, transfixed by the band and audience’s dedication towards each other. Biffy have managed to bring the arena show to a whole new level.
Each song is another hit from the airwaves you’d forgotten, and each revelation is a welcome surprise. As ‘Mountains’ bursts into its huge chorus we’re not only looking forward to Biffy’s headline slot at Reading and Leeds, but we’re predicting it could be one of the highlights of the festival season. The show was well worth pushing the car home for.
Words by Ruth Offord
Photos by Danny Payne