Music

Review: Biffy Clyro and Brand New sparkle at London’s O2

Biffy Clyro round off a huge year with a visual feast at London’s impressive O2, bringing with them the mighty Brand New.

Celebrating a year which has seen Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro headline Reading and Leeds Festival for the second time, their huge London date understandably sees the trio heavily nod to this year’s Ellipsis full-length.

Although playing material from their wider back-catalogue, tonight deliberately presents Biffy Clyro as an incredibly current force, opting to take a step away from the “Greatest Hits” territory they could comfortably sit in. Yet testament to their meteoritic rise, voices across the vast venue ring out regardless of the song, or indeed the song’s era.

It’s a luxury also afforded to single support act Brand New, who (despite having cryptically announced their forthcoming demise) tear through a short setlist that steers far from nostalgia. Complete with fan favourites Jesus Christ and emo-party stalwart Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades, their performance offers a definitive cross-section of their sound. Unusually for the underground heroes, tonight acts as an introduction to many, despite Brand New’s 15 year plus tenure.

Yet it’s immediately obvious how tonight’s headliners have reached their lofty heights. Recent single Wolves Of Winter delivers an instant opportunity for fans to unleash their vocal love for Biffy Clyro, before Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies allows the band to showcase their serious musical ability; just how they time the intro to that song live remains a mystery.

The reason for their early start also becomes evident as the setlist pushes past 25 songs. Each presents a different side of Biffy Clyro, be it their energetic thunder or their heartfelt emotion. Acoustic performances by frontman Simon Neil, bringing his solo talent to Medicine and Machines. These, as well as their suitably pained version of Folding Stars, are met with a respectful silence from the near 20,000 strong crowd.

It’s their mastery of both that makes their performance so compelling, above and beyond the dazzling on-stage production that basks The O2 in a multitude of lights. The visual spectacle is befitting to their understated yet theatrical sound. Biffy Clyro are welcoming a new wave of stadium rock, grandiose but far from melodramatic.

Catch Biffy Clyro headline Download Festival in 2017. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.

All photos by Mark Forrer.

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