Review: Biffy Clyro, Concert In The Gardens

In 2010, Biffy Clyro were booked to headline Concert in the Gardens, the showpiece event in Edinburgh’s world famous Hogmanay calendar. The Biffy army rejoiced. This was, after all, confirmation that a band who had been perennial underachievers for nigh on two decades were now in rock’s major league.

Since then, the Ayrshire trio have gone on to even greater success – indeed, there’s a strong argument they are now Britain’s No.1 hard-rock band.

Certainly, few in attendance at Concert in the Gardens the other night would have argued with that assertion. For while the supporting acts were very well received by the huge crowd during this all-Scottish affair, it was clear the majority of those present had braved the cold to see Biffy.

Biffy, for their part, reciprocated the love by going topless for the occasion, as is their custom.

Beforehand, the early birds in attendance were treated to a blistering set by dynamic duo Honeyblood, for whom this hometown gig must have been the icing on the cake in a year that’s seen them tour the US with Belle and Sebastian and open for the mighty Foo Fighters at Murrayfield Stadium.

If 2015 was the year Honeyblood became everyone’s favourite new band, this will surely be the year they become massive headliners in their own right.

Irresistibly catchy, fuzzed-out garage-pop tunes like Choker, Super Rat, Babes Never Die and set standout Killer Bangs already sound like classics, and word is they’ve plenty more of that ilk on their forthcoming second album.

Idlewild, who were second on the bill, have been around the course before.

Formed in the Scottish capital, Roddy Woomble and the boys celebrated their 20th anniversary this year, and they reflected this with a career-spanning set that featured a fair few fan favourites from their impressive back catalogue – including set-opener You Held The World In Your Arms, Love Steals Us From Loneliness and American English.

So far so good, and the main course was yet to come.

Biffy Clyro hadn’t played a live gig all year, and the sense of excitement was palpable as they walked on to Motorhead’s classic Ace Of Spades (a nod to the recently-deceased Lemmy).

The three-piece of Simon Neil and siblings Ben and James Johnston are a formidable live act and, just as they did in 2010, they absolutely justified their headliner status.

From frenetic openers The Captain and That Golden Rule to set-closers Many Of Horror and Stingin’ Belle, the band never let the pace drop – well, only once, to make way for a spectacular firework display that lit up the sky over the famous Castle as the clock struck midnight to signal the start of 2016.

As dazzling as that six-tonne display of pyrotechnics was, the real fireworks on the night were on the stage of the Ross Bandstand.

And to think the organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay were panned over the decision to pick Biffy as headliners for a second time – some accusing them of “playing it safe”, others bemoaning the fact the line-up wasn’t as “poppy” as in previous years.

Hey-ho. If you didn’t like it, there was always the option of staying home and sticking on some Wham!