Britain’s best band makes its mark with triumphant live album and DVD set.
Ian Winwood 2011-06-20
In October 2004, this reviewer was awarded the honour of laying out bottles of water and clean towels onto the stage of Glasgow’s famous Barrowland, just minutes before Biffy Clyro took to the boards. By any measure, it was a character-building experience – staring back were 2,000 Scots, all of whom were chanting "mon the Biffy!" over and over again, at a bracing volume. At that time, south of the border the Ayrshire trio were the very definition of a well-kept secret. But that night it was clear that it was more than national pride that had brought these people to a famous ballroom in the East End of Scotland’s largest city. It was evident that something was bubbling.
Seven years and more than a million album sales in the UK later and Biffy Clyro’s bandwagon has rolled all the way to the loading doors of Wembley Arena. It might have rolled yet further. When the band booked their UK tour from which this live album and DVD is harvested they balked at a potential appearance at the 20,000 02 Arena, fearing they’d be playing to a half-empty room. Turns out, in fact, that this once-unfancied of turns could have filled Britain’s largest arena, and with some ease. And it’s a safe bet that they will do so in the future.
Given that this is a band that prides itself on its work ethic, it’s no surprise that Revolutions is the sound of an expert live outfit. From the opening crack of The Captain through to the subdued majesty of Many of Horror, to the acutely stirring pairing of Folding Stars and Machines – both masterclasses in finding words that deal correctly with the shocking nature of grief – every song included for selection here sounds as if it belongs in the grand setting of Wembley Arena, without its authors ever sounding like a typical arena band. No group straddles the line between mainstream appeal and underground instincts quite as convincingly as Biffy Clyro, which is why an album that might well have amounted to little more than the fluff of filler works so convincingly well.