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Biffy Clyro at London Shepherd’s Bush Empire - live review

Scots rockers’ lives flash before their eyes for War Child

A press shot of Biffy Clyro

Ahead of tonight’s intimate fundraiser for War Child, it was announced that the support band was to be a very special guest. It was no word of a lie, as the opening act is… Biffy Clyro, who reward the long‑time faithful with an electrifying set of old favourites from their first three albums. They’re on the attack while the whole room swoons to the soaring chorus of Justboy, frontman Simon Neil, prowling behind his thick mane, tearing into the full-throated howls of There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake with the ferocity of a lion bringing down a gazelle.

Set two brings us up to date, stuffed with the bona fide hits that have made them one of the UK’s biggest bands. After December’s winter tour of the country’s sheds, they take on a new intimacy in this beautiful theatre, the core trio of Neil, bassist James Johnston and drummer Ben Johnston going eyeball to eyeball with their followers.

They’ve always been passionate, but tonight is on another level. Stripped of their full arena production, it’s down to human connection, sweat and songs that, even at their most accessible, retain a wonderful oddness that sets them apart from their peers. The reason we fell in love with them in the first place, in other words. They wring every last singalong drop from The Captain, and then they’re gone, leaving the audience on a high that’ll last for weeks.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.