Sunday, March 3, 2013

Save my soul with Rock 'n' Roll - Biffy Clyro in Cologne

Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro - no filter just stage light

WARNING: If you do not want to watch a 39-year-old woman morph back into her own fangirl me anno ca. 1992/1993 then skip this post, because  .... 


But let's start with the beginning that is ... amzingly enough only a few weeks ago and that is because I live under a rock. Music TV is dead, the radio stations in Munich are awful and since I do not have a car I do not listen to radio at all and I am also lacking my own late 90ies me:  the record shop guy, who knows you and your taste in music and recommends you the best new releases - just like I did when I worked behind the record shop counter. I also have to admit that I am too lazy to still read music magazines although I obviously should. That means that I need my family and friends to introduce me to new stuff. It were for example my sister and my brother in law who made me listen to the absolutely wonderful Cold War Kids, who I will miss btw on their short German tour in May because I am on vacation that time - *ARGH*!

But back to Biffy Clyro ... the boys were on the edge of my horizon for quite a long time already. You maybe know that ... you hear something / read about a band and make an inner note to check it out. I did that a couple of times already when I came accross Biffy Clyro and lurked into a couple of songs on youtube, but got distracted for whatever reason every time I did and promised myself to come back later - and forgot it. That changed just lately when my Cologne based friends including Anita, who took me to the first Friska Viljor show, mentioned they got tickets for Biffy Clyro

I thought that now was really the time to finally get back to it. I was at the office and decided for a 5 min music break, plugged in my headset, opened youtube and randomly opended what was showing up at the top - the Wembley Arena live version of "Mountains"


I sat at my desk and got beamed back to my hyperemotional 1992/1993 music fangirl me bathing in sound with my heart aching not sure if it would melt or explode any moment. I think the last time I was so shaken was when I saw the video of  Pearl Jam's "Alive" or The Black Crowes' "Remedy" for the very first time (must be both 1992), which kind of fits because Biffy Clyro are huge Pearl Jam fans themselves and reference in their interviews dozens of other bands I love and used to love. 

Some hours, internet research, cellphone messages and downloads (Paid ones, because I pay for music I love!) later I had over 50 Biffy Clyro songs on my cellphone, a concert and an airplane ticket to Cologne to see the show with my friends. In the meantime (I am still a record collector) I purchased all albums as physical CDs and the number of songs on my cell is up to 130 (some are double - live and studio versions) and I love every single one of them with daily changing favorites. 

James Johnston of Biffy Clyro
The day of the concert I was totally nervous and full anticipation. The live album "Revolutions / Live at Wembley" is amazing and the band if famous for playing fantastic live gigs with 20+ songs. And just for making it even more perfect the location of the show was the wonderful E-Werk in Cologne - the place of our legendary first ever Black Crowes concert and the venue where I had the honor to see David Bowie play a club show (the E-Werk holds about 2000 people only). This place is really connected with some of the best, most important and most intensive music related memories I have. 

The show was sold out and the venue humming of excited people chatting ... and enduring the not so great Norwegian punk rock band that played as support act (thank god only for about 20 minutes). Then it got dark and the roadies where quickly cleaning up the stage from the additional equipment and making the final checks.

A few minutes later without much glamour and tam tam the band entered the stage: Ben sat down behind the drums, Simon picked up his guitar, James took his position (all shirtless as usual) next to tour guitarist Mike Vennart. They launched into "Different People" and the E-Werk went *KABOOOOM* from the first note. The audience knew the songs and really not just the stuff from the popular records "Puzzles", "Only Revolutions" or the singles from the brand new and absolutely wonderful double album "Opposites" but also all the either pretty old or very new tunes. 

I read a couple of reviews which said that the live album "Revolutions / Live at Wembley" is overproduced and the sound too cleaned up, but those people likely never have been at a Biffy Clyro show because the sound is just AWESOME! The guys play together since they were teenagers in Kilmarnock, Scottland and you can hear, feel and see it all the time. These are professional musicians who know each other so well that they communicate wordless and play perfectly together. It's mindblowingly GOOD! 

They played 23 songs in Cologne - old ones and news ones, hard and fast ones and slow and emtional ones, popular ones and some deep form the big repertoire list. They played them all with 100% focus on the music and with their souls on the strings and drum kit. If you look a bit into the lyrics and stories of the songs it is very clear that a lot of them are very personal and that was exactly what you could feel all through the show. 
I will never understand how musicians can stand this level of intensity over months with live show after live show. It cost me about a week (I am not yet 100% down again) to recover from this night and I desperatly hate the black hole such an intense experience leaves in my solarplexus once it is over - and for me it was just one night leant against one of the E-Werk steel pillars. 

What is left to say? Not much, I guess. I know that this was not my last Biffy Clyro show and although I would love to keep seeing them in venues with the maximum size of the E-Werk I wish them all the success they deserve. I know it is hard for some of the long term fans to watch them gettig so big, but I honestly think it is fantastic that a real band, that plays together for years and writes simply beautiful songs can still beat out those horrible, TV casted and after marketing plans designed crap that is flooding the radio stations. 

Oh ... and if you have time check youtube for some interviews - I am MADLY in love with that Scottish accent


The setlist:

Different People

That Golden Rule
Sounds Like Balloons
God & Satan
Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies
Black Chandelier
Modern Magic Formula
Booooom, Blast & Ruin
Victory Over The Sun
Spanish Radio
There's No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake
Who's Got a Match?
The Joke's on Us
Many of Horror
The Captain
Stinging Belle

The video that changed my little world for the better. This is HUGE ... usually the Biffy Clyro shows are not that pompous:

My actual favorite song "Opposite" from the new album in a wonderful accoustic version:

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