Tuesday, December 13, 2016

On the road with The Biff - Manchester - 3 December 2016

Biffy lightshow in full beauty

There we are already at the end of the 2016 Ellipsis tour! That sounds sad and I AM sad but then again ... not that terribly much ... just a bit melancholic. There are plans for next year already and you can expect more Biffy adventures on here. But before it is time to say good bye to the Biff for a little while we got one more gig to talk about and that is the one in Manchester. 

Our home base for the weekend were the Premiere Suites - not a regular hotel, but serviced apartments. It was good, but the place turned out to be as big as my flat (booked one bedroom got 2 bedrooms) and we could have housed half of the crew if we would have known this ahead of the trip. The apartments come with a full kitchen which we did not use at all, but if you plan to stay a bit longer in Manchester or need something to share with a few more people to lower the costs this is actually a good choice.
What I can also strongly recommend is the Café North right next door to the Premier Suites. The breakfast was excellent, there were also vegetarian options for the cooked breakfast available and they had a big selection of dairy free and super delicious smoothies.
Also if you happen to be in Manchester around Christmas take some time to visit the Christmas Market - it is huge and reminded me very much of the big city center Christmas Markets in Germany. 

LOOK - there's Gambler! 
Let's talk about the show:
This is the story of a bunch of people trying to be reasonable adults. Yes, I can hear you laughing and I am laughing with you. "Nice try!" is really the appropriate comment for this. What is so funny? Well. We got seats. Yes, actual seats. A whole bunch of us did.
When I told a friend about this - in the front row in Glasgow - he spontaneously checked if I had a fever and maybe I had? The thing is - there were lots of good reasons. Seats meant that we could take a later train / flights, meet the Biffy pals for an extended pub pre-show meet up, no queue, no rush, no front row anxiety with Manchester Arena being famous for being difficult / unpredictable with doors, no one that can limit your sight, full view of the light show and not half closed eyes because of lasers pointing at you for two hours. Doesn't it
 sound like heaven? Doesn't it sound even more like heaven for a middle aged person that was on her 5th (4 Biffy, 1 Twin Atlantic) gig in 8 days? It sure did ... until it didn't. Nope, no, never again. I am not made for this. No more envious staring on the little bobbleheads of the friends down there at the front ever again.
To be fair: It was not really bad. We sang, we danced, we actually could see very well and I would prefer a good seat over a bad standing spot in the middle of the crowd any time, but it just is not the same show as you would experience if you were right by the stage.  Oh well ... life is a learning curve, isn't it?

But the sights ... the sights were indeed spectacular!

The Wee Man


Ben on the big screen
What made the show awesome but the seat situation not easier was the fact that this was a great crowd. I heard a few people calling it "tame", but I cannot confirm this. At a big venue like this you can totally stand unharmed at the one end while at the other end hell breaks loose.
From our seats we could see people rock at the front but as limited as you are being able to do so relatively squeezed into the dense crowd in the first rows. What we could also see was the circle pit that formed several times more towards the middle of the standing room. It was seriously big and looked much like a hurricane on a weather forecast map. The moshing break down of "That Golden Rule" looked awesome (and for a moment I was not too sad about being in my hypersafe seat). 

Happy James
Photo: Anita Ivanković
Let's get to the highlight of my last 2016 show and that was this time: "The Captain"

I love "The Captain". I have the final lines tattooed on my arms. I think the opening of the encore is the perfect placement and the only song I like as much (at least) in this spot is "Glitter & Trauma".
A huge arena like this (The capacity is 21,000. It was not 100% sold out but very, very busy) is the right place for the big anthemic songs like "The Captain" and what I could eye-witness here (Yay .. seats?) was absolutely beautiful. There is nothing quite like it than seeing the arms of almost 20k people point to the stage on the loudest "Whooooo" I ever heard right into a burst of white light. I LOVED IT! 

Yeah ... and then after two more songs it was over. Done and gone. The worst part really was saying good bye to all the Biffy friends for at least a couple of weeks. That bunch of people is special and has all my heart. 

The next couple of days for the shows in Cardiff and Birmingham I was fine. The pics were awesome and especially the reports from the Cardiff gig were enthusiastic. I was too tired though to have a real desire to be still on the road and my voice was completely gone as well. I could have seriously not made another gig. Then came London, the final gig at the O2, and that was .... painful. For me. For the band it was the GRAND FINALE they deserved so so so much and I could not be happier for them that it was such a triumph.

Biffy Clyro - Thank you for the music, the good times, the memories and the love! 

Source: Biffy Clyro Official Facebook Page

YesDragon - Be My Armour 

"Be My Armour" can be purchased here

When you hit the road with your favorite band and your friends you know that it will be a very intense time. It is a little escape into another world where you do nothing but hanging out with your best people doing only what you love doing the most. It is amazing (and just in case you are wondering: no, it is not boring at all) and all about emotions. Happiness though - and that is what we are talking about - is never permanent and neither is a tour. Part of the magic is that it is limited. The downside is that you know that at the end you will be sad and hurting for at least a little while. The ambivalence is inevitable. You cannot have the happiness without the sadness. 

It is the same with this song. It makes me sad. Significantly sad. I cannot even really tell why. It just cuts right through all my shells like music does - good music at  least. Yet ... I listen to it. I even listen to it often on repeat because it is also beautiful and probably my favorite song from the YesDragon EPs so far. It is the same ambivalence, I think. You cannot have the beauty without the sadness - you either take it both or you leave with nothing and that is never the best choice. 

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