Ever since four lads from Llandudno came out with “Homesick” in 2013, called themselves Catfish and the Bottlemen and released their debut album “The Balcony” the following year, indie fans across the country knew they were destined for big things.
Fast forward five or six years and these “big things” include being announced as headliners at this year’s TRNSMT festival and selling out 10,000+ capacity arenas. I was lucky enough to be at the latter on Tuesday night as Catfish and the Bottlemen began their UK tour in Nottingham on Tuesday, February 19.
The band waltzed out to a sea of delirious fans to a Bruce Buffer UFC introduction and kicked off in aptly chaotic style as they played “Longshot”, their first release of the upcoming album “The Balance”. From the reaction the songs had online and its’ warm welcome here, it’s clear this is an anthem that will be high in the bands’ repertoire for years to come.
As that got the crowd warmed up, frontman Van McCann followed with one of the first album classics, “Kathleen”, prompting the first (of many) mosh pits of the night.
The quick paced start continued with “Soundcheck”, the first released single of Catfish’s second album, “The Ride”. This song displays to me the passion and character in McCann. There’s not many other singers I know that could melodically recall a romantic encounter during a fag break and have thousands repeat it to him like it’s gospel. (Writing it out, it actually seems like a very stereotypical indie concept, but I stand by it).
It was at this point where I was fully invested in the moment. I feel like this was solidified as the magnificent opening riff of “Pacifier” hit the arena. If I was pushed to name a favourite Catfish song I think it would have to be this one so it’s reaction from the fans was, I feel, hard done by. Possibly due to the sandwiched early-middle placement on the setlist, but this is my own personal bias.
McCann then went on to power through foundation songs “Twice” and “Fallout”, the latter of which boasting the first of two guitar and drum solos giving a refreshing pace change to the night and showed off the talent and potential of Benji Blakeway, Bob Hall and Johnny Bond.
The fanatic frenzy was brought to a simmer around the half way mark, but only because of a first listen to currently unreleased single “Sidetrack” and a soft but powerful rendition of “Heathrow”.
The main event was where this concert was won for me, though. An electric triple threat powerhouse of “7”, arguably the most popular of The Ride’s singles, followed by “Cocoon” and plenty of fan’s favourite, “Tyrants”.
As silly as it sounds, “Cocoon” is where I truly felt the night as it’s where I, and many others I know were introduced to Catfish and the Bottlemen (shoutout to all my FIFA players out there) so when the crowd were orchestrated to repeat the final chorus multiple times, it left myself and everyone else in the Motorpoint to bask in the charismatic glory of Van McCann at his best, which made the long day I’d had before hand, the mediocre support and the girl throwing up in the arena near us (before 8pm) all worth it.
So, if you couldn’t tell, I thought this gig was sensational. The passion so clearly shown by McCann replicated by the fans below is all the naysayers need to witness before commenting on the bands music being “samey” or “repetitive”. These four lads define the expression “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
By Jack Murphy