Words fae Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
Ah yes! The theatre, home of culture, art and sophistication. Only the finest performers have the privilege of trotting the boards and let their voice resonate through the halls. Hence why my Wednesday evening was spent watching Biffy Clyro perform a full-blown, dick-swinging acoustic set at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. I dressed up in my finest Tesco blazer, dullest Chelsea boots and took my seat for an evening at the the-ay-tre mmmyeeesdahling.
Fans of the Biff will already tell you that this unplugged tour is an extension of the MTV Unplugged set they did in London last year, taking them to strange locations such as the Symphony Hall to perform an acoustic set.
The first thing that strikes you is the set design; a mix of wilderness and fairy lights, with the tree in the middle somewhat reminiscent of the Opposites tour. The second thing that strikes you is “why the fuck am I sitting down at a Biffy Clyro gig?!“, not least in a grand hall such as the Symphony. Nevertheless, Biffy showed they were more than capable of bringing their arena shattering sound to the halls of the world as they opened with The Captain.
Everyone loves a good arena, hall, academy or pub show, like, why else are you fucking reading this, but the sound quality the Symphony Hall offered made Biffy’s other shows sound like haphazard jams in a rehearsal room. Even the clapping sounded good. Even the heckles from yer da, begging Simon to take his shirt off sounded good. Even the silence sounded good.
So it’s an acoustic set, which, in the unwritten laws of live music, means all bets are off. And boy oh boy, if you’d stuck a fiver on The Rain appearing, you probably could have won enough money to afford a pint. It was wall to wall curveballs with Saturday Superhouse, As Dust Dances and Folding Stars rocked up.
Even the obvious choices felt like surprises, with Machines, Mountains and Biblical having new life breathed into them through the stripped back performances. You know you love Biffy? Just wait until you see them fucking naked.
It was a really nice, chilled out vibe as well. Simon, Ben and James really seemed at ease with the whole thing, and less frenetic than your average taps aff, up to eleven Biffy gig. It was a weird experience to be sat down, in a shirt and enjoying an evening of the-ay-tre, whilst usually shirtless and lawless men were gently plucking their instruments.
Whilst the set design, set list, setting and set-sual energy were all exciting enough, the constant winks to new material, not least through new songs A Different Kind of Love and Adored, which both sounded fantastic. The other winks in those new songs imply that we’ll be seeing two Biffy albums in the near future, one of standard fare and unstandard time signatures, and maybe, just maybe one made up of acoustic tracks. Yes yes, come to daddy.
The only problem with the evening was no matter what they’d play in the one and a half hours they were one stage, you were bound to be left wanting and wishing. Were the songs perfect? Oh my yes, but where were Little Soldiers and Christopher’s River? But with that said, in an alternate universe, I’m asking where Re-arrange and God and Satan were, and in another alternate universe, I’m a good writer. Good luck to that guy!
Whilst Simon promised that we would never see the likes of this again, Biffy proved that they have the versatility, skills and catalogue to take their live show to any venue, and any dimension. Closing on Many of Horror, a hall rose to its feet and rattled it like it has never been rattled before, with the band being roundly and rightfully cheered off the stage. Whilst you’ll forever construct your perfect Biffy acoustic setlist in your head, what existed in the real world was nothing short of perfect, and left you with plenty to look forward to, not least new material.