GIGS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE: Biffy Clyro, Download Festival 2017
It was the end of what felt like an eons-long day at Download Festival 2017. I could only afford to buy a ticket for one of the days, so after weeks of agonising and much highlighting of the line-up poster, I had plumped for the day which included some of my favourite bands, including the ever-wonderful As It Is; the kings of my emo days, Pierce the Veil; and which was to be headlined by the mighty trio that was AFI, A Day to Remember and Biffy Clyro. From the moment I stepped onto the hallowed soil of Donnington Park, there was something special buzzing on the air: and, even more miraculously for Download, it wasn’t pouring it down!
It was one of those days that seems to last forever, and at the same time it passed in a blink of an eye. One moment, I was stood in a circle of fellow Creeper fanatics, sobbing our way through their iconic track ‘Misery’; then next second we were rocking out to AFI from the top of a Ferris wheel (which I clung to with white knuckles!); and before we knew it, we were pulling my friend from the pit after she cracked her head on the barrier when we were crowdsurfing our hearts out to the final thumping bars of ‘Downfall of Us All’.
Owing to the aforementioned skull-cracking, we opted to take a seat on the hill to watch that night’s headliners, legendary Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro. Which, in hindsight, was a smart decision, because had we been any closer, I think the last remaining brain cells that hadn’t been pummelled to death in A Day to Remember’s lethal mosh pits would have been blasted to smithereens! I had heard tell that Biffy’s shows were always stratospheric, but I was in no way prepared for what was about to unfold.
It was simply biblical.
There had been some muttering amongst the metal purists for whom Download is a yearly pilgrimage about this pop-infused rock band snatching the top spot at their treasured festival. Yet those criticisms were silenced within minutes of the band taking to the stage. The two-hour set flew by in what felt like minutes. Newer tracks, like the then fresh-faced ‘Wolves of Winter’ set the entire field swaying, shaking the ground to its foundations in a stream of sparklers and swirling graphics. From the majestic ‘Biblical’, which rang out in all its grandiose majesty across the park, to the much-loved radio single ‘Bubbles’, which, despite its airy chorus, felt gargantuan when blasted outwards from the imposing stage. It was the first time I’d ever witness three soft-spoken Scottish gentlemen make such a wonderful racket – and what made it all the sweeter was snuggling up with some great friends, fighting off the chill of the evening wind by singing our hearts out!
The most memorable moments, however, came along with the opening notes of their two biggest singles. Having had ‘Mountains’ be the soundtrack to many a family roadtrip as a child, I was able to steady myself for how incredible it would sound being powered out through the sky-scraping speaker stacks. Through the inevitable tears of nostalgia building in my eyes, I was able to send a video to my sister, recreating a little of the dance we concocted to it in the back seat of my dad’s car. What I could have in no way been prepared for, however, was how anthemic ‘Many of Horror’ was about to be. The rousing upswing into the chorus is potent on record, but accompanied by the cheers of an ecstatic crowd, bursts of fierce pyro, and a final explosion of fireworks at the closing notes, it was nothing short of magnificent. I have struggled to adorn any song with the title of ‘anthem’ ever since. Wandering back to the car park with aching legs, arms flung around my friends and with a permanent smile etched onto my face, I knew I had just witnessed something truly unforgettable.
Biffy Clyro's new album, 'A Celebration of Endings' is due for release on the 14th of August.
Check out the original video for 'Many of Horror' and re-live the majesty with us!