LIVE: Biffy Clyro / Brand New @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow

By Kathryn Black

“Home sweet home.” That’s how Biffy’s Simon Neil described the SSE Hydro on a Baltic Tuesday night. Surprisingly, considering they’ve been well and truly adopted by the city (although originally from Kilmarnock), Biffy Clyro have never played the SSE Hydro in Glasgow before. Settling in to the latest venue on their list with energy and style, the festival headliners made filling arenas look easy.

From the opener ‘Wolves of Winter’ through the animalistic ‘Howl’ to the eclectic ‘Animal Style’, the new material from this year’s ‘Ellipsis’ album proved the most consistently popular of the night. Joining together dancing Dads, band tshirt-clad kids with school in the morning, and plenty of emos (still clinging on to that trend, aren’t we?), every chart-friendly chorus was met with a monster singalong; a choir of alternative music fans screaming at the top of their lungs.

But has this widespread success come at a price to Biffy’s most loyal of fans? Since 2004’s ‘Infinity Land’, the pickiest of pedants have complained that “the old stuff is the best” – even more ridiculous when most of the moaners had barely reached their teenage years when it was originally released. There is, however, some sense in their complaining. Tracks like ‘9/15ths’ and ‘Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave’ were depressingly under-appreciated, while the comparatively boring ballads that ended the main set (‘Many of Horror’ and ‘Machines’) were met with tears and applause.

In a similar vein, support band Brand New went almost unnoticed by the audience. A band whose response from the public has always been split equally between a cult-like admiration and not giving a single solitary shit, mammoth songs like ‘You Won’t Know’ and ‘Degausser’ were entirely underappreciated. Jesse Lacey’s vocals sounded incredible, however, and a small appreciation was shown for the recognisable introduction to ‘Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades’. This wasn’t their audience but there’s a reason Brand New have remained, and always will remain, an emo favourite.

Appearing effortlessly cool throughout, Biffy’s showmanship is second to none in UK rock. Simon Neil and bassist James Johnston spread themselves across the stage, keeping a personal connection with the audience despite any distance the cavernous venue may have put between them. Only a few bands make it to arena level and these guys – alongside drummer Ben Johnston – are a well-oiled, performance machine. Conducting the crowd through good time songs ‘Bubbles’ and ‘The Captain’, it’s easy work for a band who have spent this long playing shows and releasing records, carving themselves a signature style (tops off, skinny jeans, and a killer light show) along the way.

Not sounding as jaw-dropping as the recorded version sounds blasted through your headphones on a particularly emotional, pining-for-your-ex sort of day, ‘Biblical’ didn’t seem to win the affections of as many people as you might think based on its romantic, thoughtful lyrics. The closing ‘Stingin’ Belle’, however, seemed like a fitting close for an almost hometown show in Scotland; if only they’d used the venue as a good excuse to bring on some bagpipes, matching the album version of the track. A rousing conclusion to an impressive two-hour set, a feeling of unity swept over the Glasgow night. “Stand where the others stand, we’re alive tonight,” Simon Neil sang during ‘Different People’ and never did those lyrics seem so apt.