Biffy Clyro // Architects // Live Review // The SSE Arena // Belfast
A chaotic night in Belfast with crappy weather, heavy teatime traffic, nervous drivers, and numerous gigs and other art-related projects going on around the city tonight means getting from a to b in the city tonight is a serious challenge, however, if suitably motivated one will find a way. Biffy Clyro you say, hell yeah, I’ll see you there!
The SSE Arena plays host to one of the UK’s finest rock acts, the Scottish rock monsters Biffy Clyro who are back in Belfast once again after their MTV Unplugged Tour of 2018, so a pandemic or so in-between and the western world collapsing all around us,the guys are back, bigger and better than ever with a thirst for a passionate Irish crowd North and South of the border to remind them why this island is so special to play.
In tow, Brighton titans Architects who recently released their new album The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spiritvia Epitaph Records,so the timing is perfect to capture these majestic modern metal heroes in the flesh. The guys have been crafting their sound coming up for two decades now and have refined it through the days of Metalcore, melodic post-hardcore and a brutal technical ability whilst somehow managing to balance it all with a majestic melodic quality throughout. I have had these guys on my radar for a while and have craved the day that I would eventually capture them live, here we are. My friends in En-ger-land rave about this band, they worship at the altar that is Architects so let’s find out what all the hype is about.
7:25 the lights drop and the guys take to the stage to a roar from the crowd, in what seems like a blur we are whisked into a frenzy of hefty riffage, as the guys get stuck right in. Frontman Sam Carter steps out front with a pair of shoes that Dorothy in the Wizard Of Oz would have been proud of. But that was just a minor distraction to the glorious sounds pummelling the SSE Arena crowd below, Guitarist Josh Middleton head-banging his way through the set and bassist Alex Dean rocking away on the other side of the stage, the guys rip their way through a blistering set starting and stopping on a dime, Sam’s vocals bellowing out over the arena with an occasional guttural growl thrown in for good measure. The guys have a swagger about them that screams “this is exactly where we belong” as they tear their way through a savage set packed with gargantuan breakdowns, technical proficiency, and melodic beauty that has the Belfast crowd screaming in adoration.
The guys brought a beautiful balance to their set with tracks from the new album as well as established fan favorites, from brutal savagery to melodic interludes Belfast didn’t quite know what hit them, more of the same, please!
As the set comes to an end there is a scramble to the bar and for the inflicted a scramble for the great outdoors and a chance for a quick drag before Biffy make their appearance. Their intro track kicks in as we enter the arena and make our way towards the pit to take our places, as the music builds to a crescendo the lights drop once again and one by one the figures of Simon Neil, James Johnston and Ben Johnston are illuminated on stage, a slow burner of a track opens the set and lures everyone into a false sense of security. It is simply a prelude to a night of musical debauchery that will leave you feeling filthy and fulfilled all at the same time.
Biffy are an entity all to themselves, a band with a sound that is instantly recognizable beyond the Scottish accent coming through on Neil’s vocals but with angst and energy about it that is undeniably Biffy Clyro. As the songs start to flow and the band gets into its grove you can see the energy ramp up, with a setlist as long as the tattoo’s on Simon’s arms you know this is a marathon, not a sprint but these guys have boundless energy to bring to their live show and do it with such an effortless way that you barely notice the time go by. The stage setup s mighty impressive, it is beautifully married to the chaotic and frantic riffage that Biffy toss out song after song, their disjointed rhythm patterns have the lights spitting out across the arena like they actually want you to have an epileptic fit! It is a truly beautiful sight against the backdrop of Biffy’s addictive songwriting and f course that monstrous tone that Simon somehow manages to get out of a Strat!
I did watch a fascinating video done b the guys from That Pedal She on YouTube Mick & Dan who went to see Biffy on tour In the UK a while back they got a tour of the rig setup that Neil uses and Jesus H Christ it is something else, racks that would make the eye water and a pedal board to get the gnarliest of sounds out of those single coils, and to my shock and horror a Boss metal zone pedal, I am still traumatized by that. But when you see and hear Simon Neil brutally attacking his gorgeous Fender Custom Shop Strat it is a thing of beauty.
James on bass is like a man possessed, barely able to stand still even for a second as he thrashed his instrument like his life depended on it. The guys bring out a strings section from time to time to add further ambiance to their set as they weave their way through a back catalog from 9 studio albums worth to keep their armies of dedicated fans happy. The guys around me warbling every word of every song tell me just how deeply this band has resonated over the years, how far and wide their appeal is, and in 2022 just how that has not waned one single bit. The settles is packed with anthemic stadium-sized songs, from the gargantuan ‘Mountains’ and ‘Many Of Horror’ to ‘Black Chandelier’ and everything in between. A gorgeous spectacle to witness in the flesh, the SSE was bathed in spectacular light, the arena and surrounding halls bellowed to some of the UK’s finest rock and that shitty weather and chaotic traffic all seem like light years away now. That is what music does, that is why 8,000 people all congregate in a room together to celebrate their mutual love for a band, an album, or sometimes just to hear that one song to catch that thing so contagious, Joy!