Wednesday, December 7, 2016

On the road with The Biff - Belfast - 27 November 2016

Biffy Clyro - Ben & James vocals for "Medicine"

Back to back was the theme of this weekend and on we went up North to Belfast. After some hassle with finding the right bus stop and a much, much needed nap during the trip we arrived in Northern Ireland around lunch time.
When the tour was announced I had no second thoughts about doing Belfast as well. It is such a short flight back to Glasgow that I could do that on Monday morning before work (it was very painful but it worked) and our experience with our first trip to Belfast had been such a good one that it did sound like a great idea to do it all again. There were also no second thoughts about the hotel because the Premiere Inn Titantic Quarter is directly next to the venue and the accommodation of choice.  We had stayed there in the summer as well and there is nothing to complain. It is a classic Premiere Inn - nothing fancy but clean rooms, comfortable beds, friendly staff and booked early it is really affordable. If you go to a show in Belfast at the arena or Belsonic I can also really recommend to plan in some spare time for the Titanic Museum & Experience - it is pretty awesome and well worth the time and money. 

We did not have time though ... we had a show to go to!

Best security ever!
Before we come to the music let's talk about the people who made this day really special:  The local security team! 
Usually when the topic comes to the security at gigs the typical fan reaction is an annoyed groan. Sadly so very often the local staff does not make the fan life easier but a lot harder. After watching desperate people queuing for hours in the cold they seem to feel a little power when they can have people wait that extra few minutes, take their time to figure out the scanners while the doors are wide open and people are flooding in left and right and then top it all with comments like "You got time. It is a big place."  Fuck no ... we do not have time. If a fan decides to queue it is for a reason and that reason is not "Ah well ... let's go to the bar and the cloak room, get food and drink and then check out venue."  The reason is that the person in the queue has decided to sacrifice a good portion of the day to make it to the barrier. This type of behavior from the security can seriously ruin the whole gig experience and it happens every day, all around the world at countless shows. Belfast though ... Belfast knows how it's done!

The company responsible for this event was the same who was also responsible for the superb organisation at Belsonic and this time around it was easily as good. Very early in the afternoon the first security showed up and gave clear directions where to queue in front of the ONE door. Once it got more busy barriers were keeping the queue in place and every 50 people one element was put in to avoid rushing and queue jumping upon entry. The security was sticking around chatting, answering questions and making sure everyone was alright. About half an hour before doors the first group at the head of the queue was advised that male and female guests would get separate checks and how to queue for it.  When the doors opened in time the checks on bags and tickets were quick and efficient. Behind doors the next group of security was already waiting and leading the first people slowly to the barrier. No one was allowed to pass or run. It was the easiest and fairest entry to a venue ever with a free choice of the barrier spot for us. Absolute perfection. 
And that was not all! The gentlemen in the picture above were the security in the pit. They were the funniest and nicest guys ever. They shared their sweets with us, we had more than one laugh and during the show they never stopped handing out water and continuously checked on the people as deep into the crowd as they could manage. It made SUCH a difference.  I really wish other venues / security teams would make a trip to Belfast and learn from the example. It put Norther Ireland high on my list of places to go back to for a gig. 

James Johnston
The show .... was so much more relaxed for everyone involved. After having trouble to see Mike the night before due to one of the light frames we now moved a bit more to the middle and claimed a spot with free sight of everyone (but Gambler - the master of hiding). 

We watched in awe how the stage crew after the support band Brand New in only 30 minutes finished the switch over for Biffy. That is an incredible short amount of time for such a big show. 
Just like us the band seemed to be more comfortable and confident with the set up also and moved around in a way more relaxed way on the huge stage with its many ramps and platforms. For us at the front there was still so much to see but of course we knew better what to expect and enjoyed the show a lot more. It was just so much fun to sing along and rock that barrier.  

Simon Neil - No zoom
At the end of the regular set it was time for Si's catwalk and the reaction of the crowd in Belfast was of course much the same as in Dublin. As I was standing quite a lot more in the middle Simon now stood not more than an arm length away from me. I surely enjoyed that short glimpse of feeling like being at small, intimate gig. It is also quite amazing and beautiful to watch how he comes out smiling and communicating with the folks at the front but then just closes his eyes and turns inward for the song. What is much less beautiful to witness though is that people seem to be unable to SHUT THE FUCK UP.  Why it is so incredibly hard for so many people to bloody stop talking at least through the acoustic songs??? Me and one of my pals on the other side of the catwalk both had to give out "SHUT UPS!!!" to the talkers around us. I really have no understanding and patience for this.

Mike V. - He's in the band, too!
My highlight of the night for this show was "On A Bang".  I do like the song anyway but it feels like it gets stronger and stronger the more often they play it live. It has grown into a proper monster now - a big, pretty, noisy monster and I love it. 

I also enjoyed very much that I am finally able to take full Vennart action shots. There are a lot more to share from the Glasgow show because I had an even better view on our man on the guitar, but I really like this one already. 

Thank you Belfast! You were beautiful and nice and fun and I will be back! 

YesDragon - Oil And Glue 

"Oil And Glue" is from the "7 Bells" EP which can be purchased here
It is one of those songs that gives me personally that kind of not really rationally to explain fuzzy, warm, happy feeling inside and that fits perfectly to the trip to Belfast.  It was a perfect, mostly stress free day spent with the best friends (minus Villate - we missed you!) and the best band around. It does not get much better. 

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