Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tour De Biff - Biffy Clyro Winter Tour 2013 - Munich & Tourcoing


Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the first part of my Tour De Biff were super busy and went by in a surreal state of normality. It is really like a parallel universe and when you bounce back and forth between touring with a rock band and working in your office job it gets really confusing.

It was a relief when Thursday was finally there and I was waiting for my guests. A while ago I had won two guest list tickets for the show on top the one I had purchased and so I was able to share the fun of the day with two of my Biffy friends who were traveling along with the band.
Since the venue other than in Paris was quite a bit away from civilization in an industrial / commercial area with no shops and cafés we had some lunch at my place before we headed out to the venue in the afternoon.

Munich - Stop 3

Just like in Düsseldorf the waiting crowd was very small when we arrived. The barriers for ticket and security check were not even up yet. When some guys arrived to set them up one of them looked at us shivering in the icy winter cold and said in deepest Bavarian accent: "Good Lord - these people are here earlier than once for Michael Jackson."  If it would not have been so cold (the wind .. the WIND) it would have been funny.
For us some stress was added on top of the awful weather: we had one regular ticket but the two additional guest list tickets we had to pick up at the box office that would open short before / at doors. I do not understand this. What is this with box offices open at doors??? Isn't it logical that waiting fans would like to get their tickets BEFORE doors? This whole box office thing costs so many fans of all kind of bands years of their lives by being so stressed out that I have no clue why we have to still deal with it.
The situation that night was terrible. I had asked the local staff which window would open for the guest list and that was where we were waiting. At some point light was switched on, that lady sat down, set everything up and all that in SLOWMOTION. It was really like she was enjoying to see us die in front of that damn window. We were checking on the queue all the time with our third man at the front. He would if necessary head for the barrier wihout us and try to secure a spot. It took a few more endless minutes before we finally had our tickets in hand and headed back for the queue just to find out that for our tickets it was another entrance. That was actually cool - in theory - because there was no queue at all (VIP and press entrance) and it was closer to the stage. For real it sucked because the queue at the main entrance started moving in already while we had a guy front of us telling that it was not yet time for doors. We had a serious melt down right there. I know this sounds extreme and hysterical and I always try to force myself to keep my cool, but watching a show from the barrier is a very different experience than somewhere in the crowd. I am also pretty short and if I want to see anything I am either at the front or far out at the wings where I can keep distance to the person right in front of me and that was definitely not what I wanted. It was almost comforting to see my friend having the same nervous melt down like me although I hate to see her suffer - it made me feel less weird. When finally the guy let us in the front row was quite crowded already but said third man was a warrior and we literally jumped left and right of him against the barrier into the perfect slot right where James would stand later.

While the show in Tourcoing would beat pretty much everything in awesomeness a few days later, Munich was very fine as well. I loved, loved, loved my barrier spot. It was the best I could see for the whole tour. Surprisingly even the sound was great although the Zenith sounds like shit usually and like I heard later it was more far back its gruesome self but not in the front row. I had talked to Churd before when we were queuing and he had told us that they put a lot of effort into making the HUGE place (6,000 people) sound half way decent. I have to say it worked at least for me in the front. I never had a better sound at that usually shitty place before. My spot was also really nice for taking pictures. I do not shoot a lot because I prefer to just enjoy the shows but the happier I am when I get some decents pics in the few minutes I invest.

Another thing that made Munich pretty special were the outstanding performances of both supporting bands:


Arcane Roots came out first and from the first note it was clear that everything was so much better now. The sound was great, the light was beautiful, Andrew's voice back to normal and everybody on stage was in a great, but very emotional state of mind since this was the last stop for Arcane Roots on this tour.
We in the front row cheered loudly for our Roots, but we were not alone. Munich LOVED Arcane Roots and it was such a good feeling when I heard the cheers in my back coming from the crowd and the applause was getting louder and louder with every song.
After the show we went to the merch booth to say a sad and final good bye for the tour to Arcane Roots and it was lovely to see them so happy. Those guys are fantastic - they make some seriously awesome music and they are super nice lads. I also talked to some of the other people standing around the Roots merch asking for pictures, buying CDs and shirts if they knew Arcane Roots before that night. Some people were traveling Biffy fans and of course knew them, but the majority did not before the show. They were just blown away of what they had just heard and found themselves a new band to follow. Awesome and exactly as it should be! Arcane Roots will come back  to Munich at March 30 to play their own headlining show at my favorite club Strom. I have my ticket already and if you are living in Germany and do not have a ticket yet, get yourself one!  They are playing in Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.


That day in Munich will also go down in history as the day I fell officially in love with Walking Papers. I don't know what it was ... the better light, sound, atmosphere? The crowd being already into it? It felt for sure very different from Düsseldorf and the band was in significantly better shape that Thursday night as well. I just got caught up in Jeff's raucous special voice that was unfolding its magic and I ended up loving it.
When we were heading to meet Arcance Roots at the merch it happened that Walking Papers were out there as well talking to people and signing stuff. I got a chance to talk to all of them quickly, thank them for the night and even handshake Duff McKagan. It was one of those "Did that REALLY just happen?" moments and it was awesome.

If it is your third show on the same tour you slowly know your game. You know who out of the Biffy crew is doing what at which phase of the stage preperation. You also know the playlist between the support and Biffy and it is a lot of fun. I was happily singing along CHVRCHES and Frightened Rabbit while I was trying to get my traditional preshow Instagram picture of Churd. Those pictures are all a bit blurry because of the low light and the fact that Churd is always moving around quickly but I love them because that guy is awesome - something I guess all Biffy fans agree on.


Munich is usually not the best place for rock shows. People show up late and it takes them quite some time to get into the gig. Not so that night. The audience was already very much in party mood for both support bands but everybody went just crazy when finally the boys came on stage. I was pushed against the barrier like mad and was immediatly happy to be not further in the back. At least you can see and you can breath even if behind you madness ensues. Obviously my lazy, little city was hungry for some Biffy Clyro after four years with no show in town. While I really enjoyed the craziness I think the breaker we had there for Queens Of The Stone Age would have not hurt that night either, but in the end I had really no issues except a couple of crowdsurfers the security had to pull over my head. The only thing that always kills me at German shows and again here in Munich is the chant. People in my country - and nowhere else - chant like  this is a football (soccer) game:

BIFFY CLYRO - CLAP CLAP CLAP - BIFFY CLYRO - CLAP CLAP CLAP - BIFFY CLYRO - CLAP CLAP CLAP

That is AWFUL and I have no clue why they do it. Why not chant "MON THE BIFFY" or even "MON THE BIFF"??? That is not really complicated, isn't it? Everybody else in Europe and even in the US can do that? Why not German people? Sigh.


FULL STOP - Living Is A Problem ...
The show itself was awesome. It is mindblowing what an enormous energy those men bring on stage night after night after night. Simply mindblowing.

The highlights of the set - for me personally - were "Little Hospitals" again and "Victory Over The Sun" which sounds terrific live and I wish we would hear it more often.

The feeling to have them in my town and see them at a place that is very familiar to me was fantastic.

After having fun with Arcane Roots and Walking Papers we went outside to check on the coaches, but the bad winter storm that had hit the North of Germany before had made its way down South and the weather was terrible. So no after show meet up possible ... for  that night.

Tourcoing - Stop 4

When the alarm went off on 5 am on Saturday December 14, I was sure that if somebody would ever ask me what I feel for Biffy Clyro then my answer had to be "LOVE", because nothing less than a lot of heartfelt love would get me out of bed on 5 am on a Saturday after an exhausting Christmas work week (the worst time of the year).
But since this is indeed a love story I got up, showered, grabbed my gig bag and headed for the aiport. After a serious nap in the air dreaming over some sweet Sucioperro tunes to mute the chats of nasty morning people and airplane noise I arrived in Cologne, hopped into Anita's car and off we were going West towards France.

The closer we got the better got our mood and the weather. In a little less than 3 hours we made it to Tourcoing - a kind of weird, not really big town close to Lille directly accross the border from Belgium. I have seriously no idea why Biffy Clyro even stopped here to play a small club show but I take it and I would definitely return to Le Grand Mix any time if they will do again.
We quickly checked into the unavoidable IBIS hotel and walked over to the venue where my lovely UK folks were already queuing after arriving in the very early morning hours by bus from the UK (yes, it is called dedication). And what a long day it should become. Although the weather was quite nice it of course got really cold when it the evening came and we were devasted when we learned it would be late doors at 8 pm. My hopes to get Simon's missing signature on my Paris ticket were also toned down by the information that the coaches were parked behind a fence at the back of the venue. Although we were all happy to be together again (a big part of the travel group from Paris was there) and had our kazoos ready to rock, we were tired and cold and in a mixed mood, but that would change soon.


At first the lovely Walking Papers defrosted us with some hot Rock 'n' Roll and replaced exhaustion with excitement. After a couple of shows we all knew the songs well enough for some singalongs and the atmosphere in that tiny, tiny, tiny club was amazing from the first moment. For some of us including me Tourcoing was the last gig of the tour and that was one more reason to party with those awesome guys. I really hope they will soon come back to Germany to play their own shows. I would LOVE to hear and see a full set. Thank you Walking Papers - it was really a blast! 


After our American friends were off the stage I fully realized how small the venue was. I was standing 2nd row right behind some friends when one of us stretched his arm out and could almost touch the low down stage over the tiny pit. Wow.
I have been of course at lots of tiny club shows before. Actually the most of my shows are in clubs like that or smaller but I never before had the pleasure to see Biffy in a small place like this and I got a gut feeling that this would be different and Good Lord .... it was. You should think that after 5 shows in less than 12 months nothing really can surprise you but it hit me quite off guard.


I finally understand the folks mourning the old days where shows like this were the rule and not the exception. The boys play their hearts out every single time - anyway if it is in a basement like at the living room show at my dear friend's place in Philadelphia or in front of an arena crowd, but the level of interaction and communication is certainly a different one in a small venue like this. And one thing is for sure: that night they came out have fun with us. 



Simon for example obviously decided to use the crowd in front of him aka our travel group as source for additional equipment. The first thing that went on stage was our friend's Saltire, which you can see nicely wrapped round Si in the picture here. 

We were already in the best mood when we stopped dead in slight (but very happy) shock! Before the show we had discussed as a group what we would love to hear in Tourcoing and since we love some fair share of old Biffy tunes we all agreed that "All The Way Down" would be simply amazing. They had played it at some earlier point at the tour but it had dropped of the setlist again. When we were aligned me and some others dropped tweets to the band and Neil to let them know, that to hear this song was our big wish. On that night between the songs the ones of us close to Si kept singing "All the way down, all the way down" to make clear we were serious about it and he was joking back replicating the little chant. Then suddenly some very familiar notes were filling the room - the opening of "All The Way Down". For only 650 people the scream from the audience was very loud, of course switched right over into a major singalong and finished of with us yelling "THANK YOU" up the stage. I was seriously puzzled. We had wished for a song twice on this tour and it worked both times. How awesome is that? 


We had not much time to calm down before more awesomeness was yet to come including a fantastic version of "Glitter and Trauma" that I could mostly just listen to but not see because my dear friend James effectively blinded me for solid two minutes with the strobe light - hello small venue ;)
We also had of course our kazoos in our hands ready to use not knowing if "Little Hospital" would be on the setlist again, but we were ready just in case and that was a good thing because ... it was. Another happy celebration in the crowd and when the kazoo part came we played the shit out of those little plastic bastards. Due to the fact that the venue was smaller and band and front row so close together you could hear the kazoos way better than in Paris and it sounded AWESOME. A kazoo was then also the 2nd thing that made its way up the stage but Si was so out of breath that not much came out (I think at least ... I was on the other side). 


That alone would have made a great show already but we were not even close to the end and Simon was still shopping in the front row. The next thing he pulled up was FOXY - our friend's furry famous fox hat (plush - no real fur before you ask) he wears traditionally for all shows. We were all "NO WAY  THAT THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING" - especially Foxy's dad was in shock, but yes: it really happened and Foxy went of for a wild ride through "57" and "Living Is A Problem". I could barely look over to Si because I had to laugh so hard, but damn ... so worth it. Foxy was btw as wet as you would think when he returned to his owner: 





This may be my favorite picture from the whole tour: Foxy & Si getting cozy with the smirking James






At that point we all had Tourcoing already booked into the top list of best Biffy shows ever attended, when some dicussions were coming up on stage including pointing on the setlist taped to the floor. There were some short chats and nods and we were like "What now?" And then happened what does not really often happen: They changed the setlist for us and replaced "Woo Woo" with .... drum roll, confetti, fireworks:  JAGGY SNAKE


The result: Screaming, people hugging each other, wild dances, more screaming, HI5 in all directions and total party mode and more "THANK YOU"s yelled up the stage. 


After that I was so over the top that I even survived the final (for me tour closing) "Mountains" with only minor crying and just a short look at Kitty Cat (my lion headed "Mountains" tattoo) for reassuring myself that I'd be fine. Also basic body needs like WATER or even better COKE (sugar also needed) overruled together with the happiness about this AMAZING GIG the sadness of saying good bye - that would kick in later but in this moment it was okay. 


After the show we considered what to do. Waiting for the band or not? Yes, there was a big fence but in the worst case nothing would happpen so why not giving it a try?  When we arrived at the backside of the venue already about 30 people (I guess) were there and we decided to stay. It was pretty cold but not even close to the ugly winter storm in Munich and still buzzing from the show we were fine just waiting a little longer and .... it paid out.
Only about an hour after the show a couple of people were coming out walking for the nightliners and one of them was Si. He went over to the bus to get rid off his trolley and then headed straight for the door in the fence to come out to us.



It was the first time I had the pleasure to meet Simon and I have to say that although I was told already many times what a nice guy he is I was utterly amazed. As wild as he goes on stage as relaxed and calm he was off stage and he was incredibly sweet, patient and nice with every single person there (all behaved - no screams, no yelling!). It is pretty hard to put in words but he is sure one of the most charismatic people I ever met but not in an intimidating way - it is quite the opposite. It's never been easier to chat with somebody you never met before than here. We talked quite a bit, I of course got the missing signature on my Paris ticket and yes - the mandatory picture was done as well. He looks amazing as always. I look like you look after 5 am start, a day of queuing and a sweatfest of a show, which is not pretty, but hey ... there is nothing that can be done about it. 


Just like Si had said before the twins came over a little later as well and we had some fun chats about standing against the cold with James definitely winning the game wearing two layers of winter jackets. 

This tour has been truely one of the best times I had in my life and I am no teenager anymore and had some pretty great days in my book of memories already. It was the icing on the cake to get a chance to say thank you for that in person. 


Now it is over and it is tough. I was almost happy that I could not go to the final show of the tour in Belgium although I heard it was fantastic, but I was emotional enough back home on my couch. Thankfully practically right after the end of the tour the band released dates for two headlining shows in Ireland this summer and you will guess what comes next:  

I got tickets for Dublin on June 28 already! Life is much easier when you know the date of the next show

I am also looking forward a lot to my first trip to Scoland ever that will happen sometimes in the first months of 2014, but that is another story with more and different music and it will have its own blog post when it is the time. 


Do I have anything still left on the wish list?
Yes, I do - besides more shows ... obviously:

I know that a lot of new fans (well that includes myself, too) came aboard with the last two records and want to hear mostly the newer tunes they know (that does not include me that much), but never the less I would love to see more variation and old tunes brought into the mix.
This is a band with a back catalogue full of incredible songs from six records plus b-sides and they are totally capable of having a lot of them in the live repertoire. It would be so nice to see more of the material live on stage.
Maybe that is not the right thing to do in a new city or even a new country, but TRUST US - especially at places / dates like Paris or Tourcoing. We - the people in front of you - know our Biffy and our heads and hearts are filled with music and lyrics to sing right back at you .. even if you dig deeper and pull out "Bodies In Flight" (as a random example)!

Now its time to get this finished ... 


I want to thank everbody in and attached to Biffy Clyro - Simon, James, Ben, Mike, Gambler, Neil, Churd, Adam and all the rest of the Biffy crew as well as Arcane Roots and Walking Papers for the AMAZING RIDE! 
Enjoy the Christmas break - you absolutely deserve it.

I would also like to say thank you to my Team Biffy including Anita & Steffi (nothing of this would have happened without you) for the incredible time spent together.  I am looking forward to much more to come ...

SEE YOU SOON & MERRY CHRISTMAS


PS: Do not forget ... more and really awesome writing about traveling with the Biff you can find here at David Rossi's blog!

Munich














Tourcoing








Setlist Munich

We Are Family 
(Sister Sledge song)

Different People 
That Golden Rule 
Who's Got a Match? 
Sounds Like Balloons 
Biblical 
Victory Over the Sun 
God & Satan 
Glitter and Trauma 
Bubbles 
Spanish Radio 
Little Hospitals 
The Rain 
(Simon Solo Acoustic)
Folding Stars 
(Simon Solo Acoustic)
Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies 
57 
Many of Horror 
Modern Magic Formula 
Black Chandelier 
Woo Woo 
The Captain 

Encore:
Opposite 
Stingin' Belle 
Mountains 

Setlist Tourcoing


We Are Family 
(Sister Sledge song)

Different People 
That Golden Rule 
Who's Got a Match? 
Sounds Like Balloons 
Biblical 
All the Way Down: Prologue Chapter 1 
God & Satan 
Glitter and Trauma 
Bubbles 
Spanish Radio 
Little Hospitals 
The Rain 
(Simon Solo)
Folding Stars 
(Simon Solo)
Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies 
57 
Many of Horror 
Modern Magic Formula 
Black Chandelier 
There's No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake 
(Not on setlist, it replaced "Woo Woo")
The Captain 

Encore:
Opposite 
Stingin' Belle 
Mountains 

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