I was listening to music from the new Biffy Clyro “Live at Wembley” DVD while I wrote this.
If it’s nae Scottish, it’s crap.
On Thursday May 26, Aye and The Girl took a road trip to Missoula, Montana to see the Biffy Clyro/Motörhead/Foo Fighters concert. It was a 1400 kilometre round-trip drive, and it was worth every single hour on the road.
We left Calgary at about 7 AM and got to Missoula at about 3 PM. It’s a boring prairie drive until you get past Browning, MT at which point you get into the Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park, and the Flathead Lake region. Twisty roads and great scenery.
The concert was held at the Adams Center at the University of Montana. It’s not a big school, so their gymnasium only holds 5500 people for concerts. That – combined with the fact that tickets were only $49.00 – was a big motivation for making this trip. How often are you going to see Foo Fighters in a small venue like that? The rest of the tour (starting the following day at Sasquatch) is in front of big crowds at festivals and arenas. The fact that Motörhead was also on the bill made getting to this show high priority. The fact that my current favourite band, Biffy Clyro, was there too made it a no-brainer. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Biffy hit the stage right on schedule at 7:00. The place was half-full at that point, and I was thinking that all the people who hadn’t arrived yet or were killing time in the beer garden didn’t know what they were missing. I make it a rule to never miss the opening act, because I’ve seen way too many great bands play in the opening slot. Here’s a few highlights going back to 1978 when I started going to shows, with the headliner in brackets:
- Van Halen (Black Sabbath)
- Scorpions (Ted Nugent)
- Girlschool (Motörhead)
- Uriah Heep (Def Leppard)
- My Chemical Romance (Green Day)
- MxPx (Hedley)
I went into this expecting Biffy to be very very good. They’re a seasoned band, and they’re HUGE in Europe (their Live at Wembley DVD is out next month). To be honest, I was trying to talk myself down a bit by thinking “they aren’t going to get very much time or very much lights or a big share of the PA…don’t get your hopes up too high.” But they were fantastic. Proof that a good band doesn’t need anything other than a chance to play. There was very little talk between songs. They politely thanked everybody for coming out early to see them, and they said “We are Biffy Clyro. Goodnight.” Other than that, they just played. Complicated time signatures and backing vocals all went off without a hitch. They are an incredibly tight band. Ben Johnston is a monster drummer.
By the end of their half hour on stage, I think they had won themselves some new fans. You could tell people were paying more attention than they were at first. The Girl said “It sounds like kind of a stupid name when I say it, but when they say it it sounds cool”, so from now on we’re going to say Biffy Clyro with poorly executed faux-Glasgow accents.
The set list was pretty much perfect given the time constraints. Most of my Biffy favs were included:
- The Captain
- That Golden Rule
- Who’s Got a Match?
- Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies
- Many of Horror
I will gladly drive for 7 hours to see Biffy Clyro again. They were every bit as good as I expected them to be. It must have felt strange for them to be the unknown opening act considering how big they are across the pond. The only disappointment for me was that they were sold out of tour t-shirts in my size, but The Girl got one so I can live vicariously through her.
These guys are absolutely my favourite band at the moment (with Foo Fighters a very very very close second). I get the same vibe from them that I got from Motörhead, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Nobody other than myself and two or three of my Kerrang reading metalhead friends had a clue who any of those bands were. The other kids were all saying “Def Leppard? That’s a stupid name for a band. They’ll never make it. Besides, metal is just a fad.” Guess the other kids were wrong. Guess I was right. My prediction is that at some point, Biffy Clyro will be just as big in North America as they are in Europe.
Keep an ear open for “Many of Horror” when you go see “Transformers 3” this summer. And please go buy their albums on iTunes. They need to raise enough money to buy themselves some shirts.
All along, all I’ve really wanted to be is a writer. So now I tell people that’s what I am, even though I haven’t earned a dime being a writer.
That being said, I’ll confess that once a day, every day, I wish I was still a musician. That was the one time in my life when I was cool.