Album Review: Biffy Clyro – MTV Unplugged: Live at Roundhouse London

Release date: 25 May 2018.

Biffy Clyro are a band whose live performances are characterised by extreme energy, passion and barely-healthy amounts of decibels. For them to bring their energy down to an unplugged set staged in London’s Rondhouse on their first all-acoustic live album, may require quite the holding back from the three Scottish gents.

When the few hundred Biffy Clyro fans welcome the band on stage shouting the classic chant ‘Mon the Biff!’, one would expect some metal concert to begin. But no such this is the case. The Scottish three-piece, hailing from Kilmarnock and consisting of Simon Neil and brothers Ben and James Johnston, start the show with 2009 track ‘The Captain’, a powerful way to open almost any Biffy Clyro show (as they did on their previously released live album ‘Revolutions: Live at Wembley’ in 2011). Somehow they manage to find the perfect way to bring the song to an acoustic level, while not compensating their enormous energy they radiate and emit during their performances, which is not an easy thing to do for most artists. Not being able to hide behind a wall of electronics and theatrics, there is nothing left but raw talent and pure songwriting, something that Biffy Clyro know how to do like no other.

Biffy Clyro fans know that the band have no problem switching seamlessly between their louder rock tracks, such as Stingin’ Belle and the aforementioned The Captain, and more laidback songs, sometimes even ballad-like, like Re-arrange and Medicine, both taken from their latest release ‘Ellipsis’ (2016). Still, it takes another level of musicianship to turn a song that is ‘loud and proud’ into ‘more silent but still violent’. But Biffy Clyro are still the skilled musicians we have known and loved for so many years and manage to play a set that doesn’t ever compromise on energy while retaining a high level of heartfeltness and integrity.

A setlist with acoustic classics, such as Folding Stars and Machines, and newer songs like the country-esque, rarely played live ‘Small Wishes’, is added to with some covers close to the band’s heart. A heartfelt cover of the Beach Boys’ classic ‘God Only Knows’ is dubbed by Simon Neil as ‘the best song I have never written’. It works seamlessly well within the rest of the set.

The set, that omits many classic live staple songs from the extended Biffy Clyro catalogue such as Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies and Wolves of Winter, may not be a ‘Greatest Hits’ list, but it is definitely still their very best. A band that manages to put so much emotion into everything they do, Biffy Clyro prove once again that they are one of the best live acts on the planet right now.

Biffy Clyro are going on a full Unplugged tour in Europe and the United Kingdom in September and October 2018. A pre-order at the official Biffy Clyro store will give you access to a pre-sale of the tour. General sale for tickets will start on Friday 11 May.

Sat 15 – DUBLIN, The Helix, Ireland
Sun 16 – BELFAST, Waterfront, UK
Tues 18 – CARDIFF, St David’s Hall, UK
Wed 19 – BIRMINGHAM, Symphony Hall, UK
Fri 21 – EDINBURGH, Usher Hall, UK
Sat 22 – MANCHESTER, Opera House, UK
Mon 24 – LONDON, Royal Albert Hall, UK
Tues 25 – PARIS, Bataclan, France
Thurs 27 – MUNICH, Philharmonie, Germany
Fri 28 – BERLIN, Admiralspalast, Germany
Sat 29 – FRANKFURT, Alte Oper, Germany

OCTOBER

Mon 1 – MILAN, Teatro Dal Verme, Italy
Tues 2 – ZURICH, Theatre 11, Switzerland
Wed 3 – AMSTERDAM, Paradiso, Netherlands

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Linda Köke

I'm Linda, a Dutch 24 year old art and music lover. I am an art historian, working for a contemporary art platform, parttime cultural blogger, a very culinary inclined vegan (yes I will bake cookies for you!), a mother of two cats and I spend almost half my spare time on planes to or in the United Kingdom.

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