How does a band that is accustomed to playing in front of thousands of fans in stadiums and arenas across the world translate their sound to better fit a small club like the Brighton Music Hall in Boston? The simple answer is, they don't. Instead, they perform an earth-shattering set that threatens windows and ear drums throughout the area.
In what was easily the loudest performance I have ever seen (or heard, in this case), Scottish trio Biffy Clyro tore through an hour and 15 minutes' worth of music that not only left my ears ringing, but managed to shake everything-and everyone-in attendance. It was the type of set I would expect from a band like the Foo Fighters headlining London's Wembley Stadium, or even Led Zepplin in their prime. Instead, it came from a band that is largely unknown in the U.S. and in front of about 150 fans inside a glorified bar. While they may never be as well-known in the States as they are in Europe, the members of Biffy Clyro seemed to be making the case for both the "best live band" and "biggest band in the world" designations on this night.
The show began with short opening sets from Mellow Bravo and Roman Traffic. Both were local Boston bands, and most in the crowd seemed occupied with other things while they were playing. The mood changed very quickly when Biffy Clyro took the stage and opened with "The Captain", the first track off their most recent album, Only Revolutions. The sounds that were pumped from the Music Hall speakers was simply enormous. It was the type of sound that vibrates and shakes every inch of your body and leaves you needing to catch your breath at the conclusion of each song.
The aural onslaught continued throughout the night, but that isn't to say that the volume in any way detracted from the performance. Instead, the shirtless trio of lead singer/guitarist Simon Neil, bassist/vocalist James Johnston and drummer Ben Johnston sounded perfect. Neil was particularly impressive, powering through the band's frantic verses and anthemic choruses while also nailing complex guitar solos and the schizophrenic twists and turns found in many of the band's songs.
The group would focus on their most recent efforts, playing nearly every song from Only Revolutions, as well as a handful of tracks from their 2007 breakout Puzzle. The trio kept their foot planted firmly on the accelerator for most of the show, but slower tracks "God & Satan" and "Machines" were as entrancing as their quicker material.
While the first half of the set was completed at breakneck speed, the band somehow managed to up the intensity level during the second half. They closed the set with a string of their best tracks, starting with "Who's Got a Match" and "Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies" from Puzzle, and then moving to "Many of Honor" and "Whorses" from Only Revolutions. The latter may have been the single greatest four minutes I've ever experienced at a live show, as the song's enormous chorus enveloped the room and seemingly could have blanketed all of New England.
After allowing the final note of "Whorses" to blare on in repeat as they left the stage, Biffy Clyro would return for a two-song encore of "Cloud of Stink" and "Mountains". The closer once again showed off the band's incredible ability to construct gigantic choruses, and provided a very fitting end to the evening. The crowd certainly left satisfied, while also lacking at least some of the hearing ability they had come through the door with. Believe me, it was worth the sacrifice.
While Biffy Clyro has opened stadiums for the likes of the Rolling Stones, Muse, Foo Fighters, and even Bon Jovi in Europe, American fans are more likely to see them at a small club here in the States. If you do get that chance, jump on it. It is the perfect example of a show that you have to hear to believe.