Muse/Biffy Clyro/Nothing But Thieves/Fangclub - Belfast, Boucher Road Playing Fields - 23 August 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Marc Leach   
Saturday, 26 August 2017 05:00

Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Download… some of the top name festivals that take place over the summer on the UK mainland - but one has always stood out for us in Northern Ireland and that is Belfast Vital (formally Tennants Vital.) With so many acts taking on the festival scene this is always a special treat for the people of Belfast, and especially those who can’t make it to these top class festivals; so who better to kick start this year’s two day event than some classic rock from Muse and Biffy Clyro?


Muse - Vital Belfast 2


Dublin three-piece Fangclub kicked off the night as the mass of bodies made their way on to the playing fields, getting their drinks, their hot dogs all while gathering at the gigantic stage. I have to say these guys completely blew me away with their grungy-hard rock set packed full of energy as the rarely seen ball of light in the sky beamed on Belfast. While most opening acts would generally have issues like the sound, this was not present for their set, especially when it came to lead vocalist Steven King’s guitar tone, which you could feel rumbling under your feet.


As the grand taste of alcohol started to take its effect, and the slight hint of grey clouds crept their way in, it was time for Southend’s Nothing But Thieves. After missing this four-piece, multi-talented group’s support slot for Muse last year, it was great to finally get to see them - despite lead vocalist Conor Mason having the cold (at least they didn’t pull a Kasabian!) With a huge gathering of fans, the British band powered their way through a high octane performance that show cased their talents; from Mason’s outstanding, high pitched vocals to Joe Langridge-Brown’s powerful guitar work through tracks like tracks such as ‘I’m Not Made By Design’ to their hit single ‘Amsterdam.’


Biffy Clyro - Vital Belfast 2


Now when it comes to playing in Belfast, there is no one that understands the Northern Irish crowd more than those Scottish hallions Biffy Clyro, who were billed as special guests for the night. Before I talk about their set I just want to note the fact that not only did the Biff boys play Belfast TWICE in 2016 but they’ve just came off a headline performance at this year’s Download Festival; it’s quite interesting to not only see them back so quick but to also play a slightly smaller scale compared to what they have been playing this summer.


Biffy Clyro - Vital Belfast 3


That being said, as the sun once again beamed on the festival, the lads thundered their way on with ‘Wolves Of Winter’ and ‘Bubbles’ igniting the energetic performance. From throwing in Roxette’s ‘It Must Have Been Love’ to questioning the blue skies over Belfast (what the fuck right?), the heavily tattooed Simon Neil and crew just had fun in a place they basically call their second home. As they continued to play songs from their most recent release ‘Ellipsis’ to the crowd pleasing ‘Mountains’ and ‘Many Of Horror’ the boys just once again showed, whether you love or loathe them, that they put on one of the best live performances whether it’s a venue or festival. I do have to say, it was nice to be able to see them this time, compared to their Odyssey (er, it’s now the SSE Arena – Ed) performance that left me blind for a week!


Muse - Vital Belfast 1


It was obvious that the gods of rock were wanting Belfast to experience the oncoming light show spectacular so they treated everyone to a beautiful sunset beforehand. As it hid behind Divis Mountain it was the moment everyone had been waiting for; the multi-award winning Muse. Now similar again to Biffy, Muse were here last year performing in the SSE supporting their new album ‘Drones’-  and although that was a fantastic performance, it was time to see them at a festival standard.


Having come off headline performances at both Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds, the Devon three piece took to the laser-filled stage with frontman Matt Bellamy dawning some pretty fancy ass shades for ‘Dig Down.’ Their intro may have given the audience a taste of their stellar light production, it was ‘Psycho’ and bassist Chris Wolstenholme’s rifftastic ‘Hysteria’ (followed by a quick rendition of ‘Back In Black’) that took the energy to a whole new level as there was not one person who wasn't bouncing along. Their Odyssey performance may have been in support of their recent album but this night was all dedicated to the hits with Bellamy proclaiming to the crowd that he is 53% Irish as his Mother was born in, guess where; Belfast!


Muse - Vital Belfast 3


Did I mention the light show? Well I am going to mention it again as it was just awe-inspiring, from the lasers to the strobes to the ginormous light up boxes that pulsed behind the band as they progressed on through tracks like ‘Supermassive Black Hole,’ ‘Madness’ (where Bellamy once again showed off his fancy shades) to the ‘Dead Inside.’ The classic ‘Starlight’ and ‘Rising’ were two of the stand out pieces of the whole set as the band just let the crowd sing the majority of the lyrics as they soaked in the voices of the people. But of course everything was all led up to the climax of the night, ‘Knights Of Cydonia’ as the city of Belfast gave their last bit of energy (including this reviewer) all while being amazed by a beautiful fireworks display that filled the Northern Irish sky; would have been amazing to see this at the top of the ferris wheel.


So what was it like seeing Muse in a festival set up compared to their venue set up? UN-REAL! To me, I was seeing Muse properly; even though their Odyssey show was fantastic they blew themselves out of the water here. This was certainly one of the best nights I and the thousands of people in attendance had ever had and will certainly go down in the Northern Irish music history books not just because of Muse but from every other band who performed during the night. We at Uber Rock hope that any of the whipper snappers who will attending a show where someone presses the play button were in attendance tonight as they got to witness a night full of a talent and a show like no other.


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Darren McVeigh/MetalPlanet Belfast/ Über Rock.


All content © Über Rock.  Not to be reproduced in part or in whole without the express written permission of Über Rock.