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Biffy Clyro, De Staat – Various Scandinavian Cities

Back when I was in my first year of university, armed with a young person’s railcard and and a love of music, I used to pick a run of dates on any band I enjoyed’s tour and just hop from city to city, checking out the local record shops and then watching the gig in the evening. Sometimes I’d travel back that night, sometimes I’d grab the cheapest hotel I could find. On one occasion I slept in a takeaway in Newcastle until the first train in the morning. I’m a big fan of mixing travel and watching live music and, as one of my all time favourite bands, mixing Biffy Clyro with a couple of dates in Scandinavia seemed like a good idea. When I first booked tickets during the pandemic it started out as two shows but, when everything got rescheduled, the order changed a bit and more tickets got bought. It ended up as a little run of Scandinavian shows, the final three shows of their European tour; Copenhagen, Stockholm and then Oslo. A couple of days in each city to see what they have to offer (ideally while spending as little money as possible – there wasn’t a financial crisis when I booked the tickets) and then getting public transport from place to place.


The gig tonight is in a venue called Den Grå Hal in the commune of Freetown Christiania. It’s a far cry from the venues Biffy Clyro play in the UK both in scale and surroundings. Christiania is an interesting place, it feels quite lawless in a way, some spots run down, some areas overgrown and a lot of street sellers. Entering the toilets I’m greeted by a sign that says “No Hard Drugs”, which I attribute more to the history of the community and their fight against biker gangs than the venue itself. The venue is quite a cool little venue, the wooden beams supporting the roof merge with raised areas on the side that people have climbed upon for a better view.

There’s just one support band on this tour, De Staat. I’ve avoided listening to them up until now, although I know they’re quite an established band from the Netherlands. I’d heard some people say they were an “interesting choice” as tour support for Biffy Clyro and, sure enough, they’re a bit different, especially with their use of synthesisers and effects heavy guitar and bass parts. They’re a really interesting band to watch live though. Their frontman, Torre Florim, is phenomenal – his voice sounds incredible and his control of the crowd is excellent, the dance moves certainly help. On first listen the standout track is G.O.A.T. with it’s catchy chorus and danceable beat.

Biffy Clyro are, at this point, 19 gigs into their European tour and have got it down to a fine art by now. The set is tight, every part of it as perfect as you’re going to hear a band perform live – they’re a well oiled machine. The set is heavy on the new material; if you, like me, grew up on the first three records then tough luck, the set lacks any Banquet era songs. That said, the last two records have plenty of weird moments and, in my opinion, take and build upon the style that got me into the band in the first place. There are unusual turns, there are big riffs and there are odd timed sections. They really make good use of the session players during Cop Syrup, that build up being well suited to Mike and Gambler (formerly of Oceansize) on guitar and keys respectively alongside a small string section. A truly epic penultimate part of the set. The end of the main set is another stand out point, The Captain, which seems to get heavier and heavier live each time I hear it. The massive guitar sound brings me back to when I first heard it, performed live in-between Infinity Land and the release of Puzzle. It’s just a massive sounding track.

The crowd is fairly lively this evening too although more friendly than energetic; people keep putting an arm around you during the singalongs. This is probably helped by the cheapest beer price of this Scandinavian run; you don’t need to extend your mortgage to get a couple of drinks in Den Grå Hal. Considering the length of the set is much longer than I’d usually watch time goes by quickly and in no time it’s back out into Christiania.

As for Copenhagen itself, it’s an interesting city. Not long after arriving I find myself wondering around the Meatpacking District in search of somewhere to eat and bands are rehearsing in windows all over the place and plenty of people seem to be out for an evening drink. On multiple recommendations I head to Warpigs brewpub which serves an excellent selection of smoked meats alongside a huge list of beers on tap. The following day I head to Hija de Sanchez, a marketplace taco stall set up by former Noma chef Rosio Sanchez, which provided the best food per £ of anywhere all week. I also want to praise where I stayed, Next House Hostel, which had everything; a comfortable room, a football pitch, a bar, a second bar.


Copenhagen to Stockholm is a nice journey. The direct train takes about 5 hours and the scenery is fantastic, starting at a huge bridge before darting last countryside, lakes and forests. There’s no gap between the two gigs so I check into my hotel and head straight over to yet another meat packing district, where tonight’s venue, Fållan, is located. Another interesting venue, Fållan is much more industrial than Copenhagen’s, walking through PVC curtains to get into the main arena. I think it’s actually even smaller than last night so I take my spot on the barrier as the crowd piles in.

The Stockholm show felt a bit calmer than Copenhagen, less movement in the crowd and considering I’ve had bruises from the barrier at Biffy gigs before, I was actually quite comfortable down the front, with plenty of space. I get chatting with the guy standing next to me about the local music scene (sadly I get no recommendations for local bands to check out) and how odd it is for them to be playing this size venue when, in the UK, their headline tour is in venues like the O2 and the Ovo Hydro. We both agree to sing loud enough to make up for it.

After last night’s gig I’m looking forward to seeing De Staat again. Pep Talk and Kitty Kitty catch my attention, both fantastic songs with some excellent instrumentation. I decide there is no weak part of this band: I’ve mentioned the frontman but the drummer is incredible, clearly a man with a high level of technique but he knows when to rein it in for the sake of the overall energy of the track. The bassist uses effects well, adding sub-bass as and when the track calls for it. The lead guitarist creates some interesting, quite out there, sounds. The keyboard player alternates between adding layers to the track and taking more of a dual vocalist role, dancing along towards the front of the stage. Their guitarist is a man after my own heart, a guy who’s not afraid to add plenty of effects to this sound to create some unique lead parts.

The stage tonight is a bit smaller and Biffy Clyro are a little bit more cramped on stage which perhaps gives the performance a bit more energy, the band members all much closer to each and playing off of one and other. Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies sounds particularly tight this evening, the guitar, bass and drum stabs in the breakdown at such a level of precision that I wouldn’t believe it wasn’t recorded if I couldn’t see the arm movements myself. That Golden Rule may have been around for a while now but it’s held up well – the chorus is a huge singalong piece which definitely transcends borders, the crowd singing along throughout.

A lot of people say that Biffy Clyro are a “live band” and that even the tracks you that don’t quite hit on record sound different live – Victory Over the Sun is one of those tracks for me, the recorded has just never really clicked but, in a live setting, this track sounds great, the more staccatto guitar parts during the second verse sound great but when the chords come in, when you can feel the air moving, the whole thing just sounds huge.

There’s a day’s gap in between Stockholm and the final night of the tour and that, thankfully, means getting to explore another city. I tried to do this while spending basically no money which involved exploring the old town (Gamla Stan), taking a ferry over to the Vasamuseet and then walking around for hours, including a trip to Ikea purely for novelty value. I decided I should do some kind of traditional eating so headed to The Hairy Pig in Gamla Stan to have wild boar meatballs which were incredibly good.


The following morning is an early start as, due to ongoing engineering works (yep, they have those all over the world) I had to take a train for an hour or two and then a coach most of the way across into Norway. This was probably the worst part of the trip; the coach was cramped, hot and took forever. The weather is rubbish as I arrive in Oslo and throw my suitcase in my room for the night, heading over to the venue, Sentrum Scene, to join the queue. I’m amazed that when I arrive there’s actually a fairly big queue already and, a few minutes later, it goes the whole way through the square outside the venue and around the corner. I should have known at that point that things were going to be a bit livelier than the rest of the tour.

De Staat start, as they have the rest of the tour, by saying that they’ve never played this city before but, in this case, I really have to ask “why the hell not?”. Oslo love this band. Everyone around me knows the words, everyone around me is singing along, everyone around me is dancing with the music. After two sets from De Staat I’m definitely starting to get more and more into their music – it’s incredibly fun. I’ve already praised the frontman but, honestly, he’s almost at the level of The Hives when it comes to performance and working the crowd. It’s just a delight to see them playing a city where people have clearly waited to see them for a considerable time. It may have been their first show in Oslo but I imagine they’ll be telling their booking agent to get them back as soon as possible for a headline show.

By the time Biffy Clyro take to the stage the crowd are suitably warmed up by the support. The long queues outside have translated to a phenomenal atmosphere inside and the band are absorbing it. They’re crushed together somehow even more than the previous nights and the whole thing feels a lot more intimate. You’d forgive them if they were running low on energy after 21 days of touring and international travel – hell, I’m running low on energy after three – but they’re giving back what the audience is emitting and deliver the most energetic performance of this run of shows. The band can’t stop smiling, they move around more on stage – Mike over on stage left is jumping around like it’s the first night of a tour – everything feels slightly heavier and the vocals are delivered with incredible energy. The crowd moves much more than on previous nights, a circle pit opening up just behind me a few times throughout.

The set may be identical to the previous but the feeling of the performance isn’t. I’m not saying that the Stockholm show or the Copenhagen show lacked energy, far from it, but this one just feels like it’s a level higher. It’s quite difficult to quantify and perhaps if I were sitting on the balcony it wouldn’t be the same but here, in the middle of the Sentrum Scene crowd, not far from the stage, you feel every big chord and the crowd moving as one. It’s what watching a gig should feel like. It’s a brilliant feeling.

With just a few hours left of my trip I check out the Munch Museum, mostly to see The Scream in person but I was as impressed with the current exhibition The Machine Is Us, dedicated to the social impacts of new and future technologies – it flickers between being quite weird and quite dystopian but it’s interesting and definitely worth a visit.

Some people would argue that going away and watching the same band multiple times is overkill and, well, in some respects that’s possibly true. There was very little variation in setlists so it’s not as though you’re going to hear different things every night. What’s interesting though is seeing different cities, checking out different venues and talking to different people at each gig. It’s interesting seeing how different crowds react to the certain songs and seeing how certain things are more popular in certain places. It’s a fair amount of time travelling on trains though. Take a book.

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