Biffy Clyro

Telia Parken, Copenhagen - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

The main support band of Guns N’ Roses on their Not In This Lifetime tour, was the Scottish alt-rock band Biffy Clyro. Admittedly, even though the name’s been floating around for several years by now, it’s not one we’ve ever focused in on before, and so it was that we came with completely fresh eyes and ears to this show, curious about what the band might have to offer.

“Don’t worry, we know you’re here to see fucking Guns N’ Roses!”
- Simon Neil (vocals/guitar)

After a very long intro sound-clip, it felt close to five minutes or close, the band finally took the stage. It was clear from the start that they had thought about the way they wanted to present themselves as a band. I didn’t necessarily understand it, but there was a coherency in the way that Simon Neil, James Johnston, and Ben Johnston all wore nothing on their upper body, and at least the two former both wore red trousers. Ben Johnston may have had red trousers on as well, it wasn’t really possible to see, sitting behind the drums as he was.
And then there was Mike Vennart, who broke with all of the above, by wearing a black hipster outfit, and standing in the shadows to the side of the drumkit, facing it rather than the crowd. At the time, I had not realized that he was only a touring member, not part of the actual band, so this confused me somewhat. Well, it’s still confusing, but at least it’s half a step closer to explaining it.

If Backyard Babies was an obvious choice as support, Biffy Clyro was quite the opposite. This is not mentioned in regard to their qualities as a band, but stylistically, they didn’t fit at all.
Still, they blasted away with their rock music, and gave a very lively performance as well. Neil moved about quite a bit when not singing, and Ben Johnston had an almost creepily intense look on his face. It was Vennart who was the coolest one to watch though, even though he was positioned as he was. He jumped, danced, and threw his guitar around from the moment the band took the stage, to the time they were once again ready to leave.
Given his position, in combination with the way Neil much of the time stood with his back or side to the audience as well, this show felt a bit introvert. Yes, they were lively, but it seemed to me that they were playing and performing more for themselves than the audience. There wasn’t much of a connection going on. Not until a late stage in the show, where James Johnston tried to start up a wave in the crowd, something that got an ok response, but it didn’t take those in the crowd who played along to completely mess up the rhythm of it, and it quickly died out again.

“Thank you Copenhagen, you are fucking awesome!”
- Ben Johnston (drums)

The crowd had clearly grown quite a bit since Backyard Babies had held the stage, but other than that, Biffy Clyro suffered from the same problem that they had. The crowd was here for one reason, and one reason only – to watch Guns N’ Roses. And drink beer, of course. Nothing, absolutely nothing else mattered, including the support bands.
In a good attempt at humour, Neil explained his understanding of this, and mentioned that they, the band, wanted to see Guns N’ Roses as well, and the only way they could secure tickets, was to actually play at the show.
Still, Biffy Clyro played on for the 45 minutes they had been given, and parts of the crowd applauded them between songs. Not bad, all things considered.

For my part, I wasn’t a fan however. For reasons given above, and for the fact that Biffy Clyro struggled under a terrible sound, where everything was almost drowned in a constant droning, buzzing bass sound, this turned out not to be my cup of tea. Had they been on their own, I’m sure that the general response would have been a lot better for the band, but then again, I wouldn’t have had a reason to visit them. Something I’m not compelled to do again in the immediate future.

Setlist (incomplete):

Friends And Enemies
Black Chandelier

Biffy Clyro

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