It was hot, I mean not just a little hot… but savagely so. I remember being out with my family at the main stage for some band that escapes my mind. I had come extremely close to passing out in the mid afternoon sun along with the mad dogs of Powderham, I had however survived the afternoon and some (for me at least) very questionable bands; the thought of piling into the ‘New Music’ tent for Biffy Clyro was a welcome one on many fronts. Evening approached and we left the main stage early thus allowing us to move relatively easily to near the front and centre of the stage where we waited; after some time the main stage fell silent and those of the crowd who weren’t in holding pattern just for Coldplay started backfilling and eventually filled the tent to capacity. ‘In New Music We Trust’ my arse…..
True, I’d already seen Biffy 4 times before but this gig was unique in that this time I was coming as a fan, not as a fan of the band they were supporting. Paris 2013 changed me…. Honestly, yes Coldplay was a draw but for me this was the highlight, this was what I had come to see. The respite from the heat was welcome, I had in truth forgot how spongy the floor in well trodden areas becomes at Festivals and it took me straight back to Reading with its walk of shame (that led me to miss the entirety of OoS); that felt like walking on the moon or something equally unreal. What was missing (for me at least) from the Reading experience though was the smell that accompanied the spongy underfoot feel, there was sweat and general body odours mixed in with wet aerated soil and of course sweet drinks and alcohol.
Eventually the atmosphere of easy joviality and excitement gave way to a tension borne of expectancy, the simple back lamps were lit, silhouetting the drums and amps and as one we knew that Biffy were now inevitable…. and then…. movement and the simple lighting gave way to a more complex arrangement which still managed to shroud the stage in shadows, until of course, it didn’t.
Predictably Simon sang the opening lines to Wolves of Winter and then with the usual Biffy energy we were dragged straight into the main body of the song. This was the first time I had heard this song live and man, did it work, despite not being one of my favourites; after a small interlude ‘Sounds like Ballons’ tugged at the ‘sand at the core of our bones’ to warm us up nicely for a literally glorious rendition of Biblical… Now it would be an understatement to say that Biblical is an intensely personal song that means a great deal to me, those lazy chords of the chorus only accentuate the words that trip me with their salted tears. There have been many times in the recent past where it reduces me to tears, singing out loud on that day was no change but the tears are cathartic… I need them. You could hear the emotion in Simons voice as the song ended, “that was glorious’ he almost choked and I can’t deny him that, its exactly how I felt at that point. There was barely time to catch my breath before an absolutely monstrous rendition of Animal Style which is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine; looking back at footage now I can’t believe that he managed the whole set without swearing, I think he was probably the only person in the whole tent who didn’t!
We had been propelled near-to midset on a very steep curve … where could they go from here? Well, ‘The Captain’ was a great start, our trajectory was lessening now but we were already way up high in the adrenaline stakes and then for me the lowlight of the set occurred, a new song called ‘Friends and Enemies’ which to this day Im still not that keen on.
The final four songs were all carefully chosen to build on each other, each of them being Biffy staples. Bubbles was first up with the instrumental towards the end dragging the audience front and centre into the set whilst Simon had a moment to himself and confirmed himself as a fully certified rock god. Mountains was next ‘I wont leave, till we’re finished here’ which is a line to live life by; the soft Piano intro giving way to a full on vocal and guitar onslaught and I remember feeling my voice strain during the choruses. The lights dimmed, the volume fell and after a pause the clean guitar intro for Many of Horror led us into those hallowed perfect chords and steady bruising crescendo. Again this is another intensely personal song that left me emotionally drained but buzzing.
It was then that moment we knew was coming but tried to suspend finally arrived, the finale. In the wisdom of the once great BBC this is unfortunately where their footage ends , so it seems, and nowhere can I find footage of the closing song (except for a 20 second snippet I recorded myself). The song was ‘Different People’, a song that can sit literally anywhere in the set, I must admit that whilst I knew this song it was not until I saw it live here that I really ‘got it’, needless to say this was my highlight and for the following week this was the song that lived monotonously in my head, morning noon and night. Here is that song played live at Munster in 2016 for your enjoyment.
Thank you Biffy, it was indeed truly Biblical and as cookie monster has always said ‘Mon the Biff’