Belsonic: Dark and moody Biffy Clyro still make make fine racket
Published 18/08/2014 | 11:00
Biffy Clyro have been strumming away for two decades, beginning in prog rock and grunge, flirting with disaffected balladry and graduating to radio-friendly stadium rock.
But this Scottish trio are darker, moodier, with recent hits like Black Chandelier from latest and first number one album Opposites displaying a tormented lyrical bent.
"It's great when it's just you and me and a cup of cyanide," sang frontman Simon Neil. "You left my heart like an abandoned car, the chandelier is casting shadows, asking whys."
The band emerged at full-throttle on the darkened and then lavender-lit Belsonic stage, rocking it with full-bellied gusto. "Thanks for coming out in this s***** weather Belfast!" shouted Neil mid-flow. "It's good to be back," he screamed.
The capacity crowd at Custom House Square naturally went wild for the band's best-known tracks, among them the anthemic Mountains, a serious chant-along number, and Many of Horror – a cool musing on tainted love.
Impressively tattooed and lavishly bearded Neil – who generally seems loath to wear shirts for the duration of gigs, and was again bare-chested and sweaty here – easily seduced with angst-powered delivery of the Clyro back catalogue, jumping about the stage, swearing a lot and at one point appearing to purr.
He and bassist James Johnston engaged in down and dirty riffing that almost left steam floating upwards from their guitars, suggesting a metalhead vibe.
But a large portion of the set-list was from album Opposites, moving between rock-pop euphoria, thrusting choruses, post-grunge offerings and angry songs about alienation.
Biffy Clyro aren't exactly full-on rock gods to rival Led Zeppelin, and give a slight sense of never totally nailing it, but last night they made a tremendous rock-racket.
They are still pretty damn good at what they do. And they have not mellowed into the sanitised mainstream totally, preferring to retain a certain edge, with haunted lyrics and unexpected twists.