Biffy Clyro live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2018
For the ultimate crowd experience, you need to go to a Biffy Clyro concert. As a newcomer to both bands that were playing at Spark Arena last night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Do people dance? And if so how? I had done some research, although I hadn’t learnt the songs well enough to sing along. As we got to the Arena the crowd is a mixed bunch of young couples, teeny boppers and bogans, to middle age Scottish men out to support their homeland.
WORDS BY KJ PANUI | PHOTOS BY DAVID WATSON
The arena is quite intimate and not overly crowded. There are a few seats still vacant and I hear a few of the crowd mentioning they got in on free tickets. We are in general admission and position ourselves on the cusp of the mosh pit. For not knowing what to expect, I want a true rock and roll experience.
Kiwi band Skinny Hobos are currently on stage and are rocking it. Shirtless, well mostly – the drummer has tried to keep it semi-formal by wearing a tie. This is the first rock band I have seen with only two members; a guitarist and a drummer and they are killing it.
Transitions are outstanding and smooth with the riffs and drumming. The drummer… seriously how can you not find a drummer with a tambourine and cow bell sexy? I get why Skinny Hobos are playing as the opening act! My rock connoisseur Tecwyn King (who you would have also seen mentioned at Homegrown) concludes, in the space of thirty minutes “they brought the heat. The whole fucking heat. Two guitars used, two guitars on fire”. And all in the quick space of thirty minutes.
The only big downer of the night was the thirty-minute wait between Skinny Hobos and Biffy Clyro. I found it weird that the opening act was only on for so long, however, I realised it was needed for the setup.
With the lights up, it did give us a chance to review the stage. There are Fender guitars, a lot of them. It is going to be a very Fendery evening. And there is nothing better than a drummer or a podium with a fuck load of cymbals (I can see seven). I feel it is going to be very loud.
Looking around, a few more people have gathered in, but it isn’t a full house. There is a guy behind us with earplugs and a father with his six-year-old kid. Some girls are a bit foreign to this scene and have dressed in heels and escortess attire. They are boyfriend ‘hangeronerers’. Like, their cute, and I’m sure their men were proud to show them off, but at least prepare them for what’s to come. Especially in mosh pit territory. Like I said, the crowd is very diverse.
The crowd starts to get restless and tempt fate with a few people around us vaping. Although I would not class vaping as a ‘bad ass’ feature, it is the start of the things to come from this crowd. People chant, the lights dim, more custard smelling vape fills the air and choral music can be heard as Biffy Clyro enter and stand in a trance-like until the choral finishes.
Researching the band, I wonder if this introduction is their connection with religion. Their 2009 release God and Satan has the line “I talk to God as much as Satan ’cause I want to hear both sides.”. This moment of purity totally contrasts the heavy metal we are about to receive so I wonder if this reflects that idea.
They start with a bang with one of their most well-known songs ‘Wolves of winter’. Oh, and did I mention they are also shirtless with smoking hot tattooed bodies? I don’t know their songs as much as I like but I feel like I want to know as much as I can about them all of a sudden (unfortunately for me and the other ladies, I notice they all have wedding rings. It’s okay though, we can still admire them).
The second song in they acknowledge the crowd (and I have no clue what they are saying with their sexy Scottish accents), with the only other downer of the night. When they turn the crowd light on for Biffy Clyro to see I know they would’ve had a laugh at all of the squinting faces, really wanting to make eye contact with their idols, but not wanting their eyeballs burnt out at the same time. Even during this first couple of songs the lights are so bright and intense, it puts the mosh pit off from dancing.
One of the best highlights of the night is the crowd. If you ever go to a rock concert I recommend the cusp of the mosh pit. Here you are close enough to the band and the action but in the safety zone of not being trampled on (considering the last time I was in a mosh pit, I went against the grain and nearly lost my tongue!). My mate has been to a lot of rock gigs and states “the crowd is angrier than that at Metallica. Not drunker, just angrier”. And I feel it.
The mosh pit is full of youngins trying to bowl each other over. There are also a lot of Scottish people here. And if we have all seen groundskeeper Willy from The Simpsons, we know that they can have a temper. This older guy next to us had all the drunken luck. First, his phone breaks, then as the mosh pit push into him, the hulk comes out of him and he falls over and gets lost in the group. His friends pull him out and gone are his glasses. He is an example of knowing your drinking limits at a concert.
The crowd do have a sense of unity. There are girls jumping on strangers shoulders, short guys being lifted up by random tall guys. The ‘badassness’ is stepped up with people lighting up cigarettes and others joining in. The main girl who is jumping on random guys shoulders ends up giving the band a show and getting her tits out for all to see.
As the band leave for the stage the crowd chant ‘one more biff’ for an encore. The older Scottish bloke next to me somehow is lost in translation and is constantly chanting “show us your cock” and “show us your cum”. It’s actually brilliant!
All up Biffy Clyro rocked the night out playing nineteen of their hits, two of them as an encore. There were moments of pure rock, and moments of love ballads. There was singing, swaying, headbanging and a lot of potential law-breaking moments. I hadn’t known about them before I started this reviewing gig. I still was unsure of what to expect, but all I know is that I left and added Biffy Clyro to my Spotify playlist.