Biffy Clyro/The Boxer Rebellion/Reuben
Nottingham Rock City, Main Hall on 12th October, 2004
Reviewed by Andreas on 13th October 2004
Biffy Clyro are quite possibly the hardest working band in Britain. Throughout October, they're on their seemingly millionth tour this year. Once again they're playing everyone's home town on this 16 date tour that has (so far) taken them from Swansea to Nottingham. Eventually they'll end up in their native Glasgow after having played such metropols as... hmm.. well, Carlisle.
You'd be forgiven to think that the average Biffy fan would be satisfied by now. But no, the venue is quite packed even before the first band is on. There's even chanting. So, we all buckle up for some Biffy action..
Reuben have been featured in the music press semi-frequently over the last few months. Obviously this has done them good, for there were quite a few people on the barriers jumping along. It's catchy, it's rocking, and more than I'd expect from most opening acts.
Reuben play quite hard, dynamic rock which in the right setting would be excellent. Sadly, the main hall of Notts Rock City isn't that. Whilst there's nothing wrong with Reuben's playing as such, in fact, they're rather professional, the room is just too big. They have their fans present, but at this stage in their careers, the three lads that make up Reuben just haven't got the collective personality to create any kind of ambiance in the large, cold music hall.
However, I believe they have got the songs to break through to a larger market, given the right opportunities. Plus, after the gig they gave me rock candy that said "Reuben" on it. Which is a bonus!
The Boxer Rebellion
Whilst Reuben were loud, screaming youngsters, The Boxer Rebellion are dark, morose and droning. It's kind of gothy, it's kind of post-rocky, and quite hard to describe.
Their name, taken from a Chinese uprising in the early 20th century, suggests a group of political ideologists, but they're all about the music. A wall of sound forms the basis of the Boxer Rebellion's music, reverb pedals pushed to the max. Comparisons have been made to The Cooper Temple Clause and Muse, but The Boxer Rebellion are more about depth than just throwing sounds around.
The Boxers' downfall is the fact that their songs are quite monotonous, and that someone stood next to me uttered the words "You can imagine Bez climbing up on stage soon...".
And that is not good.
Still, not a bad performance. Even though the entire band's stood still for the entire gig, they still manage to make an impact. While most of their songs do, for some reason, sound the same, there are exceptions. Their next single, "Code Red" is a very touching number, and will probably elevate the band further. All beautiful dark soundscapes and off-beat drum rhythms. They're probably heading for greater things, and are worth checking out.
"Mon the Biffy" is the new "Amen". Fact.
Even before the band comes on stage the crowd is in quite a frenzy. Luckily the wait isn't too long, for before we know it, the intro music to "Glitter and Trauma" fill the hall, and the gig is go, with the fans singing along to every word. The singing is especially loud to older tracks like "Justboy" and "Joy. Discovery. Invention", both of which could well be described as "hymns". For the first time in my life I encountered a crowd that could actually sing with a band. In key. If you think about it, that's kind of scary.
Biffy Clyro twist and turn through their songs. From the "You are the human strobe" chorus of the aforementioned opening track to the screams of "Toys toys toys, choke, toys toys toys", each song is different from the one before. However, this doesn't mean that it was some kind of prog-rock jamfest, for Biffy are all about the ROCK. There are blasts of distortion, heavy bass and drums, but also moments of silent tenderness.
The new songs like "Wave upon wave upon wave", "There's no such thing as a jaggy snake" and latest single "My Recovery Injection" hit as hard as the likes of the older "57" and "Questions and Answers". Every single song is a hit, there are no downers, no fillers. The set is one of those rare ones that are actually interesting all the way through.
Ever the professionals, the band seems very grateful of their fans, something that shows when vocalist Simon Neils chucks himself into the crowd by the third song. And still he manages to play his guitar. Perfectly.
Words can't really describe the feelings a Biffy Clyro gig induces. The most readily comparisons are those of religious meetings. That's how full of belief and pure love the fans are. It's refreshing, especially in this time of scraggy indie bands. Biffy Clyro play the best gigs the nation has seen for some time, and if you get a chance you should go see them!
It won't be long before "The Biffy" is an official religion. And that is just what this country needs.
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