It’s been three years since the grizzly Scottish three-piece, Biffy “Fucking” Clyro, made their way to our fair shores. The band has spent the last twenty years plugging away y towards rock’s top tier, building up an impressive resume are unrelenting rock n’ roll. Biffy’s Kiwi fanbase has been slowly building since the first tour, and their hardcore fans have clearly remained devoted.

Huge sections of the audience at Spark Arena were in full voice during the dynamic opener, ‘Wolves of Winter’, a song that is deftly able to marry surging power chords with a huge chorus that wouldn’t be out of place being sung from a football stand.

The fact that I walked into Spark Arena last night with little knowledge of who Biffy were is more than a little embarrassing considering the bands impressive resume – they’re released seven albums and won numerous awards, many of which recognise their powerful on-stage presence.

I had been stuck in the nosebleeds the other night in the same venue checking out The Killers, and arriving in time for the opener, Skinny Hobos, I hoped that I would have better luck with the seating arrangements. I arrived to find Spark cut in half – a far more intimate gig than the one that preceded it, but my initial hesitation was soothed by my mate’s insistence that this was one of the best live acts that we’d ever see.

Over nineteen incredibly loud (my ears still haven’t fully recovered) songs Biffy laid out their case for why they deserve that mantel.

The band were able to walk the fine line between their desire to entertain the audience and connect with their music. It’s a balance that I find most bands have struggle achieving, but Biffy’s love for the Auckland audience, and their deeply held passion for their music shone through.

The trio of singer/guitarist Simon Neil and twin brothers James and Ben Johnston, on bass and drums respectively, absolutely delivered on the night. Arriving onstage shirtless amongst a choral procession, the band gave an early indication of how hard they were going to work throughout the night.

While I wasn’t immediately familiar with the music I couldn’t help but be affected by it. It probably helped that the audience knew every word and anticipated every power chord, unpredictable time signature, and massive chorus. It is an unusual but affecting formula that reoccurred from song to song over the nearly two-hour set.

A highlight on the night had to be the anthemic ‘Biblical’, a song with a chorus so massive that it seemed purpose-built to be sung  by tens of thousands of festival goers. The crowd lapped it up and we were in full voice during the song.

The relatively restrained (by their standards) ‘Black Chandelier’ was another highlight and seemed to the uninitiated (me) to be one of the biggest if not most popular songs, judging by the way the crowded lapped up the opening chords of the tune. Turns out I had underestimated the audience, and their love for Biffy’s music. The opening chords of anguished ballad ‘Many of Horror’, which received a lot of attention thanks to a relativity TV talent show of all things, saw the crowd erupt in delight and after witnessing Spark Arena’s response, and general affection for the Scottish rockers, Neil seemed genuinely moved, thanking Auckland for their beautiful singing and long-held love for the band.

Biffy Clyro have slowly but surely climbed to the highest level of success with very little compromise made to their sounds, and while the audiences in New Zealand and Australia might be smaller than they are used to, there is little doubt that this is a band going from strength to strength. By the time concert-closer ‘Stingin’ Belle’, which saw the band end on a heavy high, rolled around they had made an absolute convert of me. Sure, I might not be able to hear properly for weeks, but fuck if that wasn’t worth it – ‘Mon the Biff!’

Setlist:

  1. Wolves of Winter
  2. Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies
  3. 57
  4. Biblical
  5. Who’s Got a Match?
  6. Bubbles
  7. Spanish Radio
  8. Black Chandelier
  9. That Golden Rule
  10. Re-arrange
  11. Medicine
  12. Howl
  13. Mountains
  14. 9/15ths
  15. Animal Style
  16. There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake
  17. Many of Horror

Encore:

  1. Machines
  2. Stingin’ Belle

About The Author

Shawn Moodie
Managing Director & Entertainment Editor
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Shawn has pretty diverse interests and enjoys writing on about whatever happens to take his fancy at the time. A seasoned entertainment reviewer and interviewer, Shawn has also seen every band on his 'Musicians to see before I die' list.

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