The Eaton’s Hill Hotel is surprisingly sparse tonight with only the downstairs area open. It must feel completely alien to a band like Biffy Clyro who have grown used to filling venues like Wembley Arena and playing to crowds of tens of thousands of punters at festivals but, just like when they were last here playing to couple of hundred lucky punters at Soundwave Festival in 2014, those gathered know to expect the same energy levels as you’d see if they were headlining Glastonbury.
WAAX strut onto the stage like arena-filling veterans themselves. Front woman Maria DeVita throws herself around the stage while dual guitarists, Ewan and Tom, whip out spiraling windmills. The pace of this opening slot is break-neck as the local five-piece crammed as much of their signature energetic rawness as possible into their allotted time. By the time 9.00pm rolled round, the crowd was suitably hyped and more than ready for the main event.
Biffy emerge right on time (and shirtless, of course) to howls of ‘Mon The Biff’ and a classical intro before launching into raucous opener, ‘Wolves Of Winter’ which is proof – if anyone needed it – that nobody writes a stadium-sized chorus like these fellas. Abrasive guitars through the verse give way to a shiny, gloriously anthemic hook. Vocalist Simon Neill shows he’s already in great voice as he tears through the track and follows this energy through as he starts the proggy intro to ‘Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies’ – as seemingly everyone’s phone appears in my eyeline to capture the moment.
It’s clear the band didn’t come to Australia intent on washing their setlist in their newer material, only offering a sprinkling of five songs from ‘Ellipsis’ throughout the night. Instead we get fan favourites like the anthemic ‘Biblical’, the juddering riffs of ‘Who’s Got A Match’ and the ‘Only Revolutions’ hit, ‘Bubbles’ – which provides one of many highlights as Simon and James both hit their stride during the riotously chaotic conclusion.
New tracks that are on show get a decent reception however. ‘Animal Style’ in particular appears to go down well as limbs can be seen flying in the moshpit at Simon’s feet. But it’s tracks like the off-kilter chanting of ‘9/15ths’, the heavy riffage of ‘That Golden Rule’ and the monolithic wall of sound that mark ‘Mountains’ that really move the crowd to put their backs into it.
Predictably ‘Many Of Horror’ closes out proceedings but the band return armed with a one-two punch of the acoustic ‘Machines’ and the maniacal, fast, heavy counter-weight of ‘Stingin’ Belle’ – a track that sums up this unpredictable, stadium-sized, frantic band in five minutes of catchy, occasionally proggy, guitar-rock.
When they first played Australia a decade ago, Biffy Clyro were an angular, contrarian and completely unique animal. But since then, having produced a singular sound of thrashing, progressive and completely accessible rock, they have become a beast. Mon The Biff.
IMAGES (C) Dan Maynard