Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Of Biff 2014 - Episode 1 - Dublin

Simon Neil / Picture: Anita Ivanković

This will be a quick one because I am a bit in a rush. Today will be a long and intense working day and then the next night will be really short. Thursday will have a 4 am start because I need to get very early to the airport for my to Glasgow via Düsseldorf flight for episode 2 of this Summer Of Biff at T IN THE PARK (I cannot believe it's here. It feels like forever since I bought the ticket in an attack of craziness).

But this is not about TITP, this is about the first highlight of the summer - Biffy Clyro in Dublin!

The last weekend of June I traveled with my friend Anita to Ireland for the first of a small series of Biffy gigs this summer. I am doing by far not all of them but cherry picked a few to make sure I see my favorite people again a couple of times before they go into recording hiatus.
I arrived on Friday in the early afternoon and settled already in our cozy airbnb room close to the venue. Our lovely host was so nice to explain to me how to get best to the venue and recommended to go there straight away so that I would know my way the next morning. Smart advice. I went and found everything perfectly like she had described. The venue was inside a beautiful park at the Royal Hospital of Kilmainham and easy to access. All good.
Next I headed for the city center to shop for my niece and to look around a bit. I was in Dublin before but that was a couple of years ago and I barely remembered anything, but the LUAS tram line between the city center and our home was easy to find and I got around nicely. I had some delicious dinner at Temple Bar (which is like a bit more charming version of the Altstadt in Düsseldorf), went for a nice walk at the Liffey and got my shopping done.

Camp Biffy Dublin
Saturday was an early start because ... queuing. I love watching Biffy from the front row (not just but especially Biffy) but I won't do that at the big festivals. So Dublin was supposed to become THE front row show of the summer and that indeed worked fine. Anita and I were by far not the only ones coming to Dublin from pretty far away and we all had agreed on an early queue. So when we arrived around 8 am in the morning we were already No 15 and 16 (still good enough).
The group soon moved from the gates into the park to the entrance of the actual venue. At this point I have to really mention the excellent organization of the event. The security welcomed us with a friendly "You are the queue? Please make yourself comfortable over there." They advised us to wait at a lovely piece of the park with trees and green. They assured us we would be the first getting in, explained the procedure later at doors, kept us up to date and even helped when it was time to keep things in order. Later on the grounds they were handing out water to us and made sure we were well hydrated and comfortable. It was really enjoyable. Additionally we had the whole day access to the Museum Of Modern Art in the Royal Hospital (it is free!), the museum café with cold drinks, coffee, tea, warm food and snacks and excellent clean bathrooms. PLUS we had except for some minutes in the morning PERFECT sunny weather. It was for sure the nicest queuing experience ever and obviously so much better than spending a whole day on the pavement of a random city in the middle of  winter (been there, done that).
It was all around a wonderful day spent picnicking in a lovely park with good friends. It was absolutely great to see all the other folks again after a couple of months off the road and we had a lot of fun. And if you wonder what little miracles music can do: I counted 11 nationalities in the first 30 people in the queue alone - all happily enjoying the day together. Just beautiful.

In the late afternoon at 5.30 pm it was time for doors. That's the moment that proofs that it is all in our heads ;). You know ... I am a cyclist. I HATE running. I do really long walks and stuff, but running? If I try to do that as a workout I can barely run to the next street corner without swearing, coughing, blaming the world for everything (give me my road bike - very different picture). BUT if you open the doors of a football field sized venue and every second matters, I can run and even leave several people behind me. It is also absolutely hilarious that I who cannot be bothered to catch a ball really can snag such a tiny thing like a snipped pick out of the thin air with one quick smooth move. But yes - I can. Thanks to James for the pick (I have to admit his very targeted throw made things very easy though).

Nathan Conolly / Little Matador
Then it was finally time for music. The first support band Little Matador was AMAZING. It is the band of Snow Patrol guitarist Nathan Connolly, who is the frontman of this groovin' rock band (significantly heavier and dirtier in a good way than Snow Patrol). I will definitely try to catch them Friday at TITP and both of us purchased the album first thing when we got home. Check them out - you won't regret.  I am already jealous for all the folks who can make it to Belsonic (Belfast) in August to see Little Matador, Twin Atlantic and Biffy Clyro. What a killer line up.

2nd support band of the night were You Me And Six and they were god awful. Gosh ... that was one damn long hour. The songs were boring but the worst thing was the hilariously exaggerated attitude. Tip between us brothers and sisters for YMAS: Just watch again that band that played after you to see how that is done well. Posing over some boring tunes and then tell those teenagers who came to see you (yes, there were quite a few) to remove some clothing (remember ... it was a hot summer day and there were no hats and scarfs and such things) to wave is ... questionable. We folks from the Biffy queue could not hold back some pretty nasty laughs (NOT appreciated by the YMAS singer) when indeed bras were thrown on stage.
At least I collected some karma points. During Little Matador's set a girl behind me asked if she could stand in front of me. THIS is a question you do not ask a person that started queuing at 8 am. If you do .. be happy when you earn just a "NO". It could be much worse. During the first songs of YMAS I then understood the situation. THAT was the band the child was there for and the lady behind her was her mum. The girlie had tears in her eyes looking up to the stage. And while I have no idea how you do that for YMAS I know very well how she feels. So I put the kid in front of me to the barrier and negotiated with the mother that she had to remove her daughter again for Biffy. The mum almost cried and said like three times "You made her day!" and agreed to make sure they would go back right after YMAS (they did). Since the singer dude had to look in our bored faces over the longest stretch of the barrier he was obviously happy to catch the eye of the now front row teenager and flashed some bleached smiles for her. Kiddo almost died of happy. I want to be at least reborn as a cat or so for that. I think that would be fair.

Churd :)
Then it was time .... oh how I love that. YMAS were off and the Biffy crew on stage. So good to see all the familiar faces again. Churd wearing his DOUG FIR shirt (club in Portland) made me especially happy since I know that the best memories are connected with that place for my US friends.
And then one of the best Biffy shows I have seen to date started. They all had their special moments and especially Paris and Tourcoing will always be most precious memories and Tourcoing still has the top spot, but Dublin was damn special as well.

James Johnston
First of all the setting in the summer evening with a golden and then pink and then dark blueish sky was AMAZING although the daylight made the light show on stage pretty redundant. It also caused the funniest moment of the night when James was not sure his strobe in the "Glitter & Trauma" intro was working and checked by strobing himself right in the face. I guess he did not see much for the next minute or so.
What made me silly happy is that FINALLY the boys started to play more around with the set lists - something we wished for already for a long time.

Mike Vennart
So this night's special treats were "Questions & Answers" (amazing dance by Mike Vennart), "The Thaw" (that piano intro KILLS me - so beautiful), "Whorses", "Machines" and ... "Justboy".  I am aware that it is not easy to understand for not Biffy fans, but this meant so much to me.  It was my first "Justboy" live ... EVER. And it is one of my very favorite songs, my right arm tattoo song, too. So when the first notes went off into the evening sky I promptly started crying. No chance stopping it. It was amazing.  So good.
The audience at least around us really appreciated what was going on and at some point the guy behind me (who I did not know) and I gave each other a big HI5 while he kept saying "We are so lucky!"  Yes, we really were.

Team Biffy in the Irish sunset
When the show was over we were simply ... happy. This sounds like a simple sentence but it means so much. Being really happy is not so easy to achieve and those moments when you question nothing, when you can leave everything behind and just enjoy who you are, what you are doing and what you are feeling in this very second are rare. But that is the reason why I do this ... why I travel, queue, spend money. I do it because doing it and listening to this band and watching them play makes me happy. And not just me - the same applies to my friends who spend these gig days and nights with me. It is why we grin at each other and comment all the efforts just with "WORTH IT!".

After leaving the venue we finally stumbled back to the LUAS stop and went home after a very, very happy day spent with friends at a really nice place and with enjoying the best rock show you can get these days.

Next day we went for a bit of sightseeing but we were basically powered out from the days before and kind of happy to catch our flights home.  Thank you Dublin - you were a great host for a great weekend.

On to the next one ...

PS: All pictures enlarge when you click on them.


Different People 
That Golden Rule 
The Captain 
Sounds Like Balloons 
The Thaw 
Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies 
God & Satan 
(Simon solo acoustic)
Glitter and Trauma 
Who's Got a Match? 
Questions and Answers 
Many of Horror 
Woo Woo 
Black Chandelier 

(Simon solo acoustic)
Stingin' Belle 


1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story, I wish I could have attended that gig in Dublin!
    I can relate to so much of what you have written, the “spending a whole day on the pavement of a random city in the middle of winter” part made me smile because it sounds so familiar and reminds me of one of the best days in my life.
    Have lots of fun at T in the Park, I’m sure it will be superspecial!