The masses have already inexplicably begun queuing despite the fact that the plane doesn’t leave for another hour. We were zoned out in a zombified state of sleep on a couple seats nearby – myself flicking slowly through a magazine and taking none of it in, my other half staring deeply into an abyss of utter confusion that only kicks in over sleep-deprivation.
Why were we there? The same reason half the other people on the plane were. To make the trip to a spectacular show from a band at the forefront of their genre. We were off to see Biffy Clyro play a one-off show at what was effectively a giant castle in Dublin.
What better reason to get up at five o'clock in the morning?
After some naptime on arrival, a stroll around Dublin, a tour of the Guinness factory and some extended sampling of that famous local brew, it was time to head to the spectacular Royal Hospital Kilmainham for the super showdown – with Little Matador and You Me At Six providing some top support to the outdoor show made all the more killer by the blue skies and shining sun.
The Scottish trio came on with a massive bang. Lights blaring, crowd roaring, signature toplessness intact. Let's get going.
‘Different People’, from latest album Opposites, was the opening track. A welcome intro to the set, starting slow, bursting into life and eventually exploding with a kickass chorus that set the tone pretty well for the slamming showcase to follow.
The set was formed from a variation of past and present that an audience of the band has come to expect. Biffy are wonderfully renowned for the quality of their back catalogue – the days of NME slating Blackened Sky now seem a laughable past – and after getting going with a few songs from Opposites and Only Revelations, Puzzle’s ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ featured, followed by the likes of Blackened Sky’s ‘Justboy’ and Infinity Land favourite ‘Glitter and Trauma’.
A more surprising inclusion was ‘Questions and Answers’ from 2003 album The Vertigo of Bliss, but the song worked well in the set, slowing the pace after ‘Who’s Got a Match?’ to lead on to more recent success ‘Many of Horror’.
The passion of the band was powerful throughout the set - and essential to the success of the show. From ‘Whores’ and ‘Sounds Like Balloons’ to the wonderful ‘Woo Woo’ and ‘Black Chandelier’, the riffs were heavy, original, catchy as hell and executed ruggedly in a way that means you’re not just listening to a live set of studio recordings – you're listening to a performance packed with the passion and zeal that has driven the trio on to keep upping their game and setting the bar higher each time they take to the stage.
When the group played the heavy stuff, the crowd went wild, and so did the band. When they slowed it down for the likes of ‘The Thaw’, or for solo acoustic takes on ‘God & Satan’ and ‘Machines’ from Simon Neil, the audience turned choir to reverberate the words right back up to the stage.
It’s gigs like this that make it a shame that the whole process of the ‘encore’ is effectively ruined, because Biffy are exactly the kind of band that genuinely leave the audience desperate for more – the kind of band that would almost certainly command a rampant encore in the days when these things actually had to be earned.
Finishing off with ‘Stingin’ Belle’ and big-time anthem ‘Mountains’, it was a sensational overall performance from James and Ben Johnston alongside Simon Neil, who left the stage declaring: ‘thankyou, we’ve been Biffy fucking Clyro’. A jubilant statement to match what most of the audience will have been thinking at the time.
Biffy certainly put on a performance that makes you remember what music should really be all about – the passion, the craze and the love of innovation.
It was a concert that leaves you pining for more, and buzzing for another session with the Biff.
Photographs: Mairi Petticrew