As much as 2016 majorly sucked in a general sense, there were some absolutely stunning live shows to make up for it. Glasgow has been home to a plethora of visually aided productions at our custom-built stadium-sized arena, the SSE Hydro which houses massive rigs that allow the biggest bands in the world to bring their massive imaginings to life. From that, you contrast the other end of the spectrum where bands rely on pretty much talent alone. Glasgow has it all – 24/7. Here’s my best picks from a fairly hefty and bountiful list of gigs I attended in 2016.
5. Biffy Clyro – Bellahouston Park
Before kicking off the tour cycle for latest chart-topping album Ellipsis, “the Biff” had the small matter of a headline slot in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park – a bit of a home game for the lads from deepest, darkest Ayrshire. The gods were shining down – quite literally – on the Southside’s favourite open-air music venue when Biffy took to the stage. Sun setting on a hazy summer evening to the heavy soundtrack of anthemic time sigs and colloquial singing style, which could be heard in Renfrew – a mere seven miles away from the stage on which they performed their assault on the senses of those in attendance. Biffy had the ability to make an outdoor concert seem intimate. A feat that very few bands can achieve.
4. Baroness – The Garage
A band who’ve overcome the odds in many ways – one trip to the UK resulted in a bus crash which almost saw lead singer and guitarist John Baizley broke both his left arm and leg. Effortless ability combined with catchy hooks make a Baroness gig one extremely enjoyable experience. A show that seems to go by in an instant as it sweeps you into an almost party-like atmosphere. Hit after hit are played to a packed out Garage that’s happy to sing and party along with the four-piece from Savannah, Georgia.
3. The Colour Line – Nice N’ Sleazy
Mental. The one word that is as close as you can get to describing what it’s like to experience this band live. 360 degree cameras are a thing nowadays and as a photographer you could be best using one of these at a TCL gig as it would be the only way to capture all five members in one shot. An absolute powerball of energy is released on the crowd as members head off into the crowd at random, sometimes to aggressively sing into revellers’ faces or to get a piggy-back ride while playing note-perfect around the venue. What makes it more surreal is the social interaction with a down-to-earth bunch of guys after their set. A genuinely talented band who put everything into their live performance. One you should add to your bucket list.
2. Muse – SSE Hydro
With the status comes expectation. You don’t get billed as one of the best live bands in the world without the ability to back it up. Muse appear in the Hydro on a stage that sits astride the middle of the hall floor. A large circular mound with ramps at either side, looking like wings on which Matt Bellamy and Chris Wolstenholme stride along with the arrogance afforded to them by a catalogue of songs which pack out a blinding set. Actual flying drones dancing through the air in time with the hits from their latest album of the same name. A visual show as much as it is a sing along, Muse have set the bar high on this tour. One that has me thinking what bands have to do to top this.
1 Biffy Clyro – SSE Hydro
Turns out, to top Muse’s stage show all you need to do is be Biffy Clyro. I honestly didn’t think that my trip to the Hydro in April could be upstaged. With a more low-key stage production than their English counterparts, Biffy Clyro raised the roof and almost razed the whole building to the floor with a set filled to burst with hits. I don’t think I’ve heard a clarity of sound in the Hydro like I did towards the end of November. I also don’t think I’ve seen a fervour in a crowd in such a venue either. Biffy are on top of the world right now. They’re also on top of my gig list for 2016. ‘mon the Biff!