As this year’s iTunes Festival reaches its final week, the power of Apple has drawn multiple mighty names to the Roundhouse — and Mumford & Sons, Alicia Keys and Muse are still to come. Even Biffy Clyro were persuaded to come out of hibernation somewhat prematurely — the Scottish rock trio’s next album, a double, isn’t due until early next year.
“We’ve been stuck in the studio for the last six months so it’s good to get out and see some faces,” said singer Simon Neil. The stage is where he and twin brothers James and Ben Johnston seem most at home. It’s solid touring that has won them an increasingly large fanbase.
With all three shirtless from the off, there was no easing themselves in gently. The current single, Stingin’ Belle, set the pace with heavyweight guitars and an air-punching chorus. They were generous with the new songs considering this was being broadcast live on the internet. Modern Magic Formula and Victory Over the Sun undermined the popular perception that the band are softening as they become more popular, the former crashing along on high-speed punk drums while the latter had a dark heart and a deafening climax.
Sounds Like Balloons sounded like the new song that was most arena worthy, for that is where they are headed. Big, bold and ear-meltingly loud, it was a huge tune.
The showmanship is one thing that is definitely increasing as they progress. Fireworks, jets of steam and rising bubbles filled with smoke all drew the eyes away from the band’s tattoo collection.
They did ballads too. God & Satan, performed alone by Neil, was beautiful, but unfortunately Many of Horror is now irretrievably tarnished by its status as X Factor winner Matt Cardle’s 2010 Christmas No 1. It tiptoed along like Snow Patrol next to the fire of some older songs.
There’s room for them to run the gamut of styles over 20 tracks on the next album. “’Mon the Biff!” yelled the fans, as ever. They’re coming on nicely.