Belsonic: Dark and moody Biffy Clyro still make make fine racket
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.