As I arrive in Scarborough, memories of day trips when I was a young boy come flooding back. Fairground rides, candy floss, donkey rides on the beach and the god awful four hour bus ride without a toilet on board was torture for a eight year old.
This trip however wasn’t to take in the delights of the coast and amusements, it was to catch the mighty Biffy Clyro rock the Open Air Theatre, their only UK mainland live date this summer and a warm-up show before the band embarks on a series of headline appearances at festivals across Europe.
The theatre is steeped in history, back in the 1930s when English seaside resorts were at their peak, this amphitheatre drew thousands each night, offering theatrical productions and lavish musicals on a scale that few of today’s producers can even hope for. By the 1950s the venue had attracted 1.5 million people, and the casts of performers alone could range up to 200.
Since it’s refurbishment in 2010, some of the music industry’s biggest stars have graced the stage from Elton John and Status Quo to Olly Murs and Boyzone.
The theatre itself is built on the site of Hodgson’s Slack with the stage set on an island in the middle of a lake. Before arriving I had images of stage divers taking a raft so they could reach the stage, fortunately for them and the rest of us, flooring is laid over the lake for shows such as this.
To kick things off tonight we have Ghostpoet, a London based vocalist and musician who states that he does not identify his music as belonging to a particular genre. I like his response to a fan, via Twitter, to the question “WHAT are you?”…
“So Interesting. Why is it so important for me to be part of a predetermined genre with its parameters and rules? I’m just an artist who experiments with sounds and loves guitars. It’s ok to be confused, not everything in life needs explanation, sometimes we just have to go with it”
This will be interesting to review! As Ghostpoet takes to the stage, Obaro Ejimiwe is donning thick-rimmed glasses and a black leather jacket, and moves with a confident swagger. They open with Many Moods At Midnight, which sounds very atmospheric along with Ejimiwe’s low-key vocal delivery, this is followed by X Marks The Spot which reminded me of Editors.
Ghostpoet are a humble band, thanking both the crowd for listening and Biffy for the opportunity. This was probably not an ideal show for them in terms of gathering new fans, but they played well and in my opinion, having such a diverse contrast on the bill has been a welcome break.
As we await Biffy, the clouds engulf the theatre shadowing the stage as the first speckles of rain fall, the whole place is a sea of £2.00 yellow rain ponchos purchased from the ticket office earlier, we have a smart bunch in Scarborough.
They are in a good spirts too, chants of “BIFFY, BIFFY” pulsate throughout the theatre and, after a short wait, Simon Neil and brothers James and Ben Johnston take the stage.
Neil sporting a new shorter hair cut and whiter than white suit announces ‘I have f***ing missed playing live’ before launching into Balance, Not Symmetry, which happens to be their live debut of the track. There’s a palatable fury to Biffy tonight, having not played live in a while they seem to have a point to prove and are pretty much all systems go from the off.
Dripping in sweat Simon Neil screams into the mike with intense purpose but yet in the most tuneful and melodic way, and they keep things moving with Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies from the album Puzzle.
As Neil discards his white jacket, they run through their hits including The Captain and God & Satan (triggering on stage fountains of fire which seem very fitting), followed by more big hitters in the way of Mountains, Bubbles, Wolves Of Winter and That Golden Rule.
Biffy have certainly nailed the art of writing great arena songs with massive sing along choruses which their devoted fans are delighted to join in with.
After a short, well needed breather, Biffy are back out for what seems to be their encore. Things are slowed down for a moment with a solo acoustic rendition of the brilliant Machines, before finishing off with the absolute banger Stingin’ Belle from the album Opposites.
This has been one hell of a performance. Although this is a Scottish band playing in North Yorkshire, there is a homecoming feel about all of this. I guess this is maybe down to the size of the loyal fan base Biffy now have and, immaterial of where they play, they feel at home.
Photography and Live Review by Mark Bromham on 14th June 2019 of Biffy Clyro at Scarborough Open Air Theatre. Mark has his own great photography site here: www.howayman.photography/livemusic