Biffy Clyro – Opposites – Review

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In Keeping with what I said the other day about trying to update this more often again I thought I’d start by Reviewing one of the albums I’ve been meaning to do for the last 4 months!! Biffy Clyro’s latest offering ‘Opposites’. Lets start by stating the obvious it’s no real secret that I’m a HUGE fan of this band and that in all honesty that probably will cloud my judgement slightly with that being said however I still think that ‘Opposites’ is a REALLY good album especially considering it’s a double album.

‘Different People’ starts the album with some synth slowly getting louder before Simon Neil cuts in with his guitar and vocals for a continuation of the mellow build up before it hits into a riff that everytime I hear reminds me of ‘The Pretender’ by the Foo Fighters, the guitar tone is fantastic and you can tell from this early point just how polished this album is going to sound a really strong way to start the album! Up next is one of the lead singles from the album ‘Black Chandelier’ which is an obvious choice for a single very radio friendly big epic arena sized chorus, but the star of the show in this song for me is the little beatdown bit. ‘Sounds Like Balloons’ comes next and is the first song to capture that quirky Biffy Clyro guitar style, it then proceeds to merge that with arguably the hugest sing-along chorus on the whole album, you also get the first taste of the funnier side of Biffy Clyro’s lyrics ‘Ancient Rome, we built that fucker stone by stone’. Next to appear is the mellow semi acoustic number ‘Opposite’ which takes the place filled by ‘God & Satan’ on ‘Only Revolutions’ or ‘Machines’ on ‘Puzzle’, a perfectly nice little song but definitely treading on areas they have before. The first song I heard from this album was ‘The Jokes On Us’ when it was debuted when Biffy supported the Foo Fighters at Milton Keynes, as soon as I heard it then I liked it and I remember listening to the grainy sounding crowd shot versions of the song for quite a while afterwards.. it sounds really great on record really crisp and precise. Another single ‘Biblical’ comes now before another three songs give way to CD1 closer ‘The Thaw’ which is another of the more mellow beautiful Biffy Clyro songs and is a really nice way to conclude the first half of the album.

Disc 2 starts with the first song that was officially released from the album ‘Stingin’ Belle’ which is very to the ‘Opposites’ album what ‘That Golden Rule’ was to ‘Only Revolutions’, by which I mean that heavier sounding really meaty sounding song, I find that Biffy Clyro tend to when you see them live, with the first song, either give you an epic opener such as ‘Different People’ like on disc one, or a smash mouth straight at you opener, with this album they achieve both starting each disc with the opposite (no pun intended) ends of the spectrum, this song is concluded by the awesome addition of bagpipes!! ‘Modern Magic Formula’ follows and displays some of that quirkyness again as Simon ‘Freaks Out’ this was one of the 2 previously non played songs they cracked out when I saw them at Download. Next to appear on the album is a mariachi band for the song ‘Spanish Radio’ which is an interesting and different vibe, ‘Victory Over The Sun’ follows which is in all honesty probably my favourite song over the double album, it has such an old school vibe to it, so much so it would probably slot straight into the ‘Blackened Sky’ album relatively unnoticed, as it is a slow builder with lots of clean picking before eventually they slowly build up on the distortion a little bit at a time, I genuinely can’t put into words how much I love this song. The less said about ‘Pocket’ the better really it’s the one song No matter how many times I’ve tried I just can’t take to it’s just far too… poppy. ‘Trumpet or Tap’ sees the inclusion of a genuine tap dancer on the chorus and is another song that is a slow burner as it gently winds it’s way to an heavy conclusion. ‘Skylight’ is another massive high point in the album for me it’s such a beautiful song and it genuinely gave me goosebumps live. Finally another couple of decent songs give way to the final song ‘Picture A Knife Fight’ which is rockier number with yet another huge chorus clearly written for the huge arenas they now fill on tours a pretty solid way to finish a very strong album.

Overall as I say I think there is probably some bias in this review but even when I push that aside (or at least attempt to) in my opinion you are still left with an extremely strong rock album, and what will in all honesty come the end of the year be in the mix for one of my albums of the year (Along with the next to be reviewed ‘The Next Day’ by David Bowie) in a time where guitar music is definitely on the decline in the mainstream at least Biffy Clyro are one of the few shining beacons left keeping the fight alive!

Rating: –

8.5/10

Tracklisting: –

Disc 1

01. ‘Different People’
02. ‘Black Chandelier’
03. ‘Sounds Like Balloons’
04. ‘Opposite’
05. ‘The Jokes On Us’
06. ‘Biblical’
07. ‘A Girl And His Cat’
08. ‘The Fog’
09. ‘Little Hospitals’
10. ‘The Thaw’

Disc 2

01. ‘Stingin Belle’
02. ‘Modern Magic Formula’
03. ‘Spanish Radio’
04. ‘Victory Over The Sun’
05. ‘Pocket’
06. ‘Trumpet Or Tap’
07. ‘Skylight’
08. ‘Accident Without Emergency’
09. ‘Woo Woo’
10. ‘Picture A Knife Fight’

Recommended Tracks: –

‘Victory Over The Sun’, ‘Skylight’, ‘Black Chandelier’, ‘The Jokes On Us’, ‘Sounds Like Balloons’

PDC

Biffy Clyro – The O2 – Live Review – 03/04/2013

Ive been meaning to do this for the last few days but kept getting distracted so I really should apologise for the belated nature of this review!, as previously mentioned I traveled up to the O2 in London last week to see Biffy Clyro yet again, and it has to be said every time I go to the O2 I forget how big that place really is!!

Support: –

The support like Bournemouth was once again ‘City & Colour’ the only difference was that this time we got to see their entire set as apposed to walking in a few songs in, I have to say though my opinion of them changed very little however, I think that they are pretty good musicians and they put forward a really strong performance, that being said I found it hard to be particularly enthralled or excited by any of their material, solid enough live just not for me I’m afraid.

Main Headliner: –

That brings me to the almighty Biffy Clyro and the 13th time I’ve seen them!! Obviously having seen a band that many times gives you more than a good idea what to expect! Biffy were in astonishing form, a band in full flow amid touring and it shows as they pulled off yet another showstopping performance! I thought the sound all night was amazing especially considering the size of the venue that they were filling!! I know every time I see them I say that the ending to ‘That Golden Rule’ sounds even more monstrous or epic but it really is true and somehow at the O2 it was taken up an even bigger notch!

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Bournemouth show because it was a more intimate venue and you get all the bonus’ that come with that, but if truth be told I had much more fun at this show, I found the crowd to be quite flat at Bournemouth for parts of the show that intertwined with the annoyance of people talking at the top of their voices during the acoustic numbers really did bother me, none of this was true at the O2 however as it was much more of a party atmosphere everyone was there to have a good time and this really showed with the near word for word sing-alongs all night and the dancing. The party atmosphere also seemed to reverberate back to the band as they seemed to be having a lot more fun than the sometimes serious more workmanlike Biffy Clyro. The band also took the chance to take full advantage of the huge arena bring large fire pyro’s with them, making it snow confetti to ‘The Thaw’ before the confetti deluge for show closer ‘Mountains’, all of which were absent from the Bournemouth show!

Highlights: –

As ever with a Biffy Clyro show it’s hard to narrow this down as the entire show was a completely flawless performance (If you ignore Simon Neil trying to sing the wrong verse during one song), I will of course always have a soft spot for the older material with ‘Glitter & Trauma’ taking the plaudits for me on this night as it sounded particularly special. In all honesty though it was some of the material from ‘Opposites’ that really hit home for me on this night as it just seemed to come alive when put in the live environment, ‘Victory Over The Sun’ is fast becoming one of my favourite Biffy Clyro songs for the last few years, ‘Sounds Like Baloons’ is a song that is clearly written for mass participation in arena’s and that’s what it gets, ‘The Thaw’ sounded every bit as lovely as it does on record and the “snow” really added, however the song that I really couldn’t get out of my head though was definitely ‘Skylight’ the performance was beautiful and the stage show that accompanied it just made it and amazing experience! It really has to be said no matter how many times I listen to/see Biffy Clyro I will never get tired of them truly one of the most phenomenal bands on the planet!! Until next time Biffy Clyro.. Until next time…

Setlist: –

‘Different People’
‘That Golden Rule’
‘Sounds Like Balloons’
‘Black Chandelier’
‘Modern Magic Formula’
‘Justboy’
‘Opposite’
‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’
‘Bubbles’
‘Victory Over the Sun’
‘A Day of…’
‘Biblical’
‘Spanish Radio’
‘There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake’
‘God & Satan’
‘The Thaw’
‘Machines’
‘Glitter and Trauma’
‘Who’s Got a Match?’
‘The Joke’s on Us’
‘Many of Horror’
‘Picture a Knife Fight’
‘The Captain’

Encore:

‘Skylight’
‘Stingin’ Belle’
‘Mountains’

PDC

Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun – The Boileroom – Guildford – 10/04/13 – Review

Last night I traveled up to Guildford to a venue I’ve never been to before The Boileroom, it was as I had expected pretty much a pub with a stage which meant we got a really intimate show, the band I headed up there for was Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, a band that I saw support Frank Turner in December last year at the Bath Pavilion.

Support: –

The show was set up quite like a local band night just with different touring artists what this meant is that there were 3 support acts last night, the first of these was Jack Wiseman, he reminded me a bit of Newton Faulkner in the sense it was one person and he’s guitar and he’s sound was very quirky, I quite enjoyed it and the the song ‘Blimp’ (I think it was called) was both catchy & quirky, it was quite an interesting performance.

Up next were Nothing But Thieves, I’m still not sure what to make of them to be honest as their set seemed to be a little all over the place almost as if they are unsure what they want to be, the first couple of songs were very generic indie they then pulled of an extremely proficient cover of Radiohead’s ‘Just’, before an acoustic number & a really country sounding song, it was all a little to eclectic for me, that being said musically they were incredibly tight and the singer had a phenomenal voice, some serious potential there I just think it needs channeling a little more.

Up next were The Lagan, now people who come here regularly will know I like to find new bands that impress me when I go to live shows and boy did I find that with this band!! Kingston’s answer to Flogging Molly/The Dropkick Murphy’s, proper full on Irish/Celtic punk rock, the performance was outstanding and the vocal harmonies were fantastic especially when they performed a couple of tracks as vocals & drums only, all that has to be said about the impression they left on me is that since I got home from work today I’ve already listened to their album twice on Spotify!! Definitely a band on the see again list.

Main Headliners: –

That brings us to Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, having been so impressed by them when I saw them support Frank Turner I was hoping that it would be very much more of the same.. It however wasn’t… it was even better!! Their performance was amazing it was so full of energy and you could see they were having fun, the bit where they unplugged and came out into the crowd to perform one song was a really good touch that added something a little extra special to the performance. They played a set that was slightly heavier towards the newer album ‘Death’ which is to be expected especially as that is the album that is more likely to be known.. and if I’m completely honest it’s the album I’m far more familiar with aswell, so hearing tracks such as ‘New Natives’, ‘Warriors’ & ‘Wishing Well’ was great for me, the song that will be stuck in my head again though is definitely without fail ‘England’s Dead’ after the Bath show it was lodged there for weeks and I’m positive it will be again a great song, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and it was good to have a chat with the guys in the band after the show, they seem like a nice bunch of down to earth guys and I hope that they were right that the tour they are planning in September does in fact include a trip into Portsmouth as they suggested!! Because if it does I can guarantee my presence there once again from a very impressed fan in the Cancer Bats T-Shirt!

PDC

The Gaslight Anthem – The Troxy – 30/03/13 – Live Review

Normally I would post reviews to gigs the day after I attend but a combination of the ridiculous journey home and having other things planned means I haven’t had the chance until now, although It has to be said I’m not really sure what to say about this show as truth be told the show was somewhat overcome by the venue for which the sound was atrocious all night.

Support: –

The support came in the form of Canadian two-piece band ‘Japandroids’, I find it quite hard to write anything about them because for the entirety of their 40 minute or so set all you heard was to be honest quite an indistinguishable wall of noise as the venue (A concerted 1930’s Art Deco Theater) clearly struggled to cope with the dynamics of a live band, as a result of this I’m not gonna review the band as I feel it would be unfair as I honestly couldn’t for the large part tell what they were actually playing.

Main Headliners: –

Unfortunately my hopes that it was just a bad setup for the support band didn’t turn into fruition, instead the sound problems continued and hampered much of The Gaslight Anthems set and throughout the entire show you could barely make out what Brian Fallon was saying or singing. The sound did get marginally better about the time they played ‘The ’59 Sound’ but it wasn’t until the encore that the sound was closer to what you’d expect.. still no where near perfect but at the very least passable, as a result it did make the show much harder to enjoy, although it did still have some moments new material ’45’ & ‘Handwritten’ both produced good sing-alongs although it’s a tragedy that the lead guitar was lost in the mire somewhere. All in all I couldn’t help but feel quite annoyed but also sad as you could tell the band were playing with all the energy and enthusiasm you would normally get from The Gaslight Anthem but the Troxy as a venue just didn’t do them any justice. All I can say on the matter really is it was obviously a bonus getting to see The Gaslight Anthem again but my overriding feeling at the end of the show is that I have found the only Venue in England with a sound worse than the Southampton Guildhall and as a result the Troxy will now join said Guildhall on my blacklist of venues to avoid in the future, my only advice to those who read this would be to avoid gigs at the Troxy like a plague if that was anything to go by.

Highlights: –

Normally I would put highlights from the set here but its quite hard to really although I guess the last couple of songs of the encore would be the most obvious pick as they were the few songs with an almost passable sound.

Setlist: –

‘High Lonesome’
‘American Slang’
‘The Diamond Church Street Choir’
‘Old Haunts’
‘Old White Lincoln’
‘The ’59 Sound’
‘The Patient Ferris Wheel’
‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues’
‘Handwritten’
‘The Queen of Lower Chelsea’
‘Biloxi Parish’
‘Boomboxes and Dictionaries’
’45’
‘Here Comes My Man’
‘Too Much Blood’
‘Great Expectations’
‘Keepsake’

Encore:

‘She Loves You’
‘Mulholland Drive’
‘Desire’
‘Here’s Looking at You, Kid’
‘The Backseat’

PDC

Biffy Clyro – Bournemouth B.I.C – 26/03/13 – Review

Last night I took the trip west to Bournemouth along with my younger brother James and mate Tom, the reason for this trip? To see the might Biffy Clyro for the first time on their current tour and the 12th time seeing them overall, so having seen a band that many times its safe to say I had a good idea what to expect. I have to say I was impressed with the venue with this being the first time I’ve ever visited the B.I.C for a gig, the sound was fantastic all night.

Support: –

The support came in the form of City & Colour, they are a band I knew nothing about and walked in as they were already on stage, what I saw of them was quite impressive the musicianship was strong within the band and the live performance was genuinely good, I have to say I’m not convinced it’s the kinda thing I would listen to in my own time but they seemed a decent support I may get another chance to make up my mind next Wednesday if I see them at the O2 in London.

Main Headliners: –

So the clock rolled over to 20:30 and the lights went out which could only mean one thing Biffy Clyro were set to hit the stage, the intro to ‘Different People’ came across the speakers before a typically shirtless Simon Neil walked out to sing the opening lines of the song before the main riff kicked in dropping the curtain to reveal the rest of the band and a mightily impressive stage set up.

The setlist throughout the night unsurprisingly was new material heavy what with the recent release of their new double album ‘Opposites’, although thankfully they did find room for a few tracks off of the first three albums something they hadn’t been doing over the European legs of the tour. The sound throughout the night was fantastic and it was good to see that additional live guitarist Mike Vennart is starting to be a bit more adventurous on stage as well. The stage set up was the biggest difference from a lot of the earlier Biffy shows I’ve seen in the past as the fact that they are now regularly selling out arenas has clearly not been lost on them as they bought an army of cameras for the animated backdrop and probably in all likelihood footage for a future DVD, as well as an imposing structure with a floating bridge for the band to ascend an descend as they wish and for this first time they bought lasers as well.

Highlights: –

Rather unsurprisingly I’m gonna say the entire set was a highlight.. slightly clichéd I know especially as I’ve said it for two or three of the recent shows I’ve been too but it is genuinely true the entire two-hour set was nothing short of nigh on perfection, it did make me laugh when Simon Neil accidentally introduced the wrong song introducing ‘A Day Of…’ instead of ‘The Rain’, it also never ceases to amaze me how the ending to ‘That Golden Rule’ sounds more and more monstrous every time I see them, ‘Who’s Got A Match’ always has the amusing bit where Simon Neil refuses to sing one of the lines and instead covers it up with a bunch of random noises. Of the new material the songs that stood out for me where ‘Black Chandelier’, ‘The Jokes On Us’, the old school sounding ‘Victory Over The Sun’ and the beautiful encore opener ‘Skylight’. I also have to obviously mention the old school stuff ‘Glitter & Trauma’ sounded as epic as ever and ‘There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake’ is always amazing and extremely welcome in the set as is ‘Justboy’ and ‘A Day Of..’ a song that I’ve not seen for a long time! Overall it was an amazing show and it has only warmed my appetite even more for time number 13 next Wednesday at the O2 in London.

Setlist: –

‘Different People’
‘That Golden Rule’
‘Sounds Like Balloons’
‘Black Chandelier’
‘Modern Magic Formula’
‘Justboy’
‘Opposite’
‘Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies’
‘Bubbles’
‘Victory Over the Sun’
‘The Rain’
‘A Day of…’
‘Biblical’
‘Spanish Radio’
‘There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake’
‘God & Satan’
‘The Thaw’
‘Machines’
‘Glitter and Trauma’
‘Who’s Got a Match?’
‘The Joke’s on Us’
‘Many of Horror’
‘Picture a Knife Fight’
‘The Captain’

Encore:

‘Skylight’
‘Stingin’ Belle’
‘Mountains’

PDC

Cancer Bats – The Cube – Southampton – 16/03/12 – Review

Last night saw myself and Tom head west into Southampton to a venue that I have never been to before The Cube, part of the Southampton University’s Student Union! I have to say the venue was a hell of a lot smaller than I was expecting it to be, but it was quite a good little venue had a massive bar and the sound was pretty good too. Anyway on to the reason we made the trip to go, to what was Download Festival aside the first Metal gig I’ve been to since Mastodon & Amon Amarth at the beginning of last year, having not got the chance to see Cancer Bats at the said festival due to the delays on Friday I decided the chance to see them that locally was a chance to good to pass up!

Support: –

First up were Empress who were ok.. not sure I can give them anymore than that really.. I watched their entire set and it didn’t offend my ears or anything I just found them distinctly average, it really seemed like they have spent the last 5 or so years listening to Tool, Deftones and most obviously Mastodon albums and tried to fuse it together which wouldn’t have been a bad thing had they been more technically proficient and therefore pull it off but it just didnt work for me really.. not bad just not particularly great either.

Up next were Brutality Will Prevail, with a name like that it didn’t take much to work out what the next 30 minutes was gonna consist of, beatdowns and screaming which would have been passable had it not been for the fact they weren’t that good at it.. but even more than that for me was the bit where they took to the stage whilst absolutely murdering Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ which lets be honest isn’t exactly the hardest song in the world to play!! They did however provide the perfect opportunity for a trip to the bar.

Main Headliners: –

Having got through the support bands it was the turn of Cancer Bats to hit the stage and tear us a new hole, and they did not disappoint as they breezed their way through a 20 song set with all the brutality and riffing that you expect from them, a couple of observations that need to made are the sound that they make as four piece is mightily impressive considering one of them is on vocal duties only, the other is how amazing the scream of the Bassist is I actually think it’s better than Liam’s and it REALLY adds in a lot of the songs.

The set was made up of a really good balance of new and old songs and the atmosphere was fantastic all night.. something that can’t be said for the last couple of shows I’ve done in Southampton, all in all I had a fantastic night and was massively impressed with a band clearly on top form mid tour! I strongly recommend if you like them taking the opportunity to see them if you get the chance.

Highlights: –

The whole set was brilliant if I’m honest but there were a few songs that stood out for me on the night ‘Lucifer’s Rocking Chair’ was an amazing headbanging chugg-a-thon, their cover of the Beastie Boy’s ‘Sabotage’ was every bit as epic live as I expected, ‘Hail Destroyer’ sounded as brutal as ever and set closer ‘R.A.T.S’ was a perfect end to a great show, it was also good to see a band again that didn’t mess around with the whole encore thing.. just come out blast your way through and hour & a half 20 song set then leave, stunning!!

PDC

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls – Bath Pavilion – 1/12/12 – Review

Let me start by apologizing for not getting this up a couple of days ago as I intended, but here goes. So last weekend myself and my good friend Tom headed across to Bath for the weekend for a break with the added bonus of seeing Frank Turner at the pavilion thrown in for good measure. Let me start by saying what a beautiful city Bath is I thoroughly enjoyed myself there, I was surprised however at how small the venue was with a capacity of a little over 1,000, the sound was phenomenal though all night and I was properly impressed by the venue and will definitely look into a return visit in the future, now onto the show.

Support Acts: –

Now the one thing I’ve learnt from my time going to shows Support acts are a hit or miss thing and more often than not a miss, I remembered however the last time I saw Frank Turner in Brixton he had really good support and as I had heard a little of Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun’s material I decided it was definitely worth checking out the Support.

Up first were Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun who are straight from the the Frank Turner school of Folk/Punk and it was immediately obvious why they were chosen to be support, they put on a really good show and I was blown away by how good they were, so much so I fully intend on picking them up on their tour early next year at one of the shows local to me. One of the highlights of the set though was definitely when Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls all ran out on stage in various animal suits (It was the last night of the tour so shenanigans were afoot all night) to play backing harmonica and some supply some additional vocals.

Up next was Tim Barry from the USA it was just him and an acoustic and some meaningful songs all from the experiences of himself and those around him, His performance was fantastic and he reminded me alot of Seasick Steve just a folk version as a lot of his stories were very much in that vein, such as when he talked about riding the rails in America whenever he gets bored. The shenanigans continued in Tim Barry’s set as a one armed Elvis statue danced across the stage towards the end of his set.

Main Headliner: –

FT Bath

This brings us to Frank Turner and I was always confident he wouldn’t let us down! and boy was I right, Frank was on phenomenal form and played songs that spanned his entire career pulling out some old school songs that he hasn’t played in quite some time including a couple which hadn’t been played for several year which was a great touch. As I eluded to earlier the sound all night was fantastic and this just added to the enjoyment, in fact I would go as far as to say it’s one of the best sounding gigs I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere was great all night and I think it showed that Bath is a city that isn’t used to getting a lot of artists visiting it as the crowd seemed to give it 110% all night as they sang and danced along.

It is quite hard to pick apart what was such an amazing set for highlights but if I had to narrow it down, ‘The Road’, ‘Try This At Home’, ‘Wessex Boy’ and ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ all just seeming to have that little bit extra along with the obvious ‘Photosynthesis’ which unsurprisingly got the largest sing-along/reaction of the night and was definitely the song that took the biggest toll on my voice. ‘Try This At Home’ deserves an extra mention as it became the official soundtrack to the weekend for my self and Tom! All in all I cannot recommend highly enough getting out and seeing Frank Turner if you get the chance but the same also needs to be said for Jim Lockey And The Solemn Sun and Tim Barry who completed what was a fantastic show crowning an amazing weekend!

Setlist: –

Normally I would put the setlist here but honestly I have no clue! And it isn’t up on the setlist.fm website so I’ll have to leave it clear.

PDC