Fresh off the British Breakthrough BRIT Award win and a sold out tour across the UK including two nights at London’s Brixton Academy, Catfish and The Bottlemen surprised everybody by announcing a much smaller tour than they are capable of. Playing just 6 shows across the country, the band chose to stick to intimate 2,000ish capacity venues. Only, it may have just been the best thing they could have done.
Catfish and The Bottlemen have the uncanny ability to make every song feel like an encore. Opening the set with a flash of lights and The Beatles’ Helter Skelter blasting through the speakers, fans are already eagerly trying to push their way to the front before the band even step foot on stage. Diving straight into Homesick, followed by Kathleen, the Lluandindo-Newcastle natives hit the ground running. Just three songs in they break out their most recent single Soundcheck. Despite coming out a mere two months ago, it ignites one of the loudest singalongs of the night. Catfish and The Bottlemen fans are a force to be reckoned with, as they continue to risk drowning out the very voice they paid to hear.
Making their way through the track list from their debut album The Balcony, the energy and enthusiasm of the band does not falter, as the audience lap up every moment. Describing their new album as ‘stadium rock’, it is in their live performance that Catfish and The Bottlemen prove their worth. New songs Anything, Red and 7 go down a treat, showing off a heavier and developed sound. Lead singer Van McCann bounds around the stage like a child, while maintaining the maturity and confidence of a seasoned front man. After all, this is a band who celebrate their 9th anniversary later this year.
For a moment, mid set, it all quietens down. Alone on stage and flooded in white lights, McCann strums delicately on an acoustic guitar for Hourglass. Provoking the most touching moment of the evening, the erratic mosh pit goes calm, as the audience sings tenderly along to every word.
Then its back to the madness, as guitarist Johnny Bond, bassist Benji Blakeway and drummer Bob Hall return to the stage. Forgoing an encore to close the set with a double hit of Cocoon and Tyrants, the crowd go mad one last time. Encouraging standing fans to get on each other’s shoulders and those on the balcony to stand, at the dismay of the venue security, it is as pure of a rock show as you can get.
Catfish and The Bottlemen are not here to start a revolution. They are not here to create their own genre or confuse the masses. As rockstars, they’re as traditional as it comes. Instead, they’re breathing new life into the old classic. It is in their live shows that they shine and prove why they were one of the most in demand bands at the moment. They do what they do and they do it well. Polished, energetic and confident – with a legion of die-hard fans behind them – they have every capability to be that stadium band they’re aiming for.