Catfish And The Bottlemen are a band that just keep getting better and better each time you see them. This would be the 4th time that I have seen the band and yet again, they were utterly sensational.
The band are known for their outrageously good live sets. Their catchy indie-rock is taking the country by storm and they have been catapulted into the stratosphere. After a year playing incredible festival sets, and a huge American tour, it was great to see the band back on home soil.
The crowd was packed together, tight towards the front. Thousands of adoring fans awaiting the return of Van Mccan and co. It was sweaty, and the crowd was pulsating with, crowd surges occurring even before the band came on stage. I knew this would be chaotic.
‘Helter Skelter’ by The Beatles rang throughout the arena before the band took to stage. It was a perfect introduction with the music cutting off the lights instantly turning to black; Catfish entered the stage and the sound of electrifying guitars began bouncing off the walls.
‘Homesick’ was the first song on the set-list. The 10,000 capacity crowd was up for it and when Van sang the first words, a whole choir of people threw the words back at him. “Coventry, are you with me?!” was screamed before the drop. Pits had been opened and the crowd vibrated from front to back, bouncing to the tune of the music.
Balcony track ‘Kathleen’ followed and was again met with the same reception of screaming girls and thunderous applauds. First single off the bands chart topping second album ‘Soundcheck’ was one of the most anticipated tracks of the evening. The intro was sweet, and Bondy’s guitar solo towards the end was utterly breathtaking and prompted scores of people to jump for joy and singing the bone cracking riff.
Fan favourite ‘Pacifier’ really got the crowd going. Having lost my friends in the madness that unfolded I stumbled into the centre of the crowd. Mosh pits and jumping teenagers shouting the melody… Then all of a sudden, their was a crowd surge and around 20 people hit the floor. it wasn’t until everyone was up that we knew something was wrong. A man was on the floor with his knee cap badly out of place and his ankle twisted round. When pacifier ended, we shone our touches to get the attention of someone but it was no use. I ran to the side and gathered two paramedics and another member of staff, who followed me to the poor man who had his night cut short. By the time I had come back, I found around 30 people surrounding the man forming a ring protecting him. The medics carried him away and what was a ring of protection turned into a ring of destruction as the drop in ‘Anything’ kicked in. Mental.
By the time ‘Business’ had finished and ruptured the heart of the venue, I found that I was reunited with more friends. The band then played ‘The Ride’ duo ‘Oxygen’ and ‘Red’ with a surge of people screaming the lyrics passionately to ‘Oxygen’. The thrashing guitars of ‘Red’ (which is by far my favourite from the sophomore album) mixed with the flashing, bright and blinding lights created a fantastic atmosphere which could only be done by The Bottlemen.
However, ‘Rango’ was up there with one of the best songs of the night from the band. He began with a soft guitar riff singing the chorus calmly like an acoustic track, then bursting into the always incredible opening riff. ‘Postpone’, and fan favourite ’26’ were up next prompting a chorus from the crowd screaming the lyrics passionately and right back at Van and the band.
The third single from ‘The Ride’ and absolute anthem ‘Twice’ caused Van to strut himself across the stage pointing at the crowd, encouraging them to move and clap. From front to back the crowd was bouncing. You could feel the floor vibrating constantly. The pure energy of the gig was sensational.
When Van called out for ‘Fallout’ he replied saying ‘Everyone if you can get people on shoulders, lets make this special’. “I pissed you off again” was sang throughout the venue, hundreds of people were on their loved ones shoulders, friends shoulders, or anyone who they could find. This was a similar outcome during ‘Hourglass’. The acoustic song sang solely by Van and the audience is always a touching, yet mesmerising performance. It is a staple of any Catfish gig and will be for the foreseeable future.
The Rides closing track ‘Outside’ was a song I wasn’t expecting to be played, however when they did play the song, it was glorious. Vans voice was slowly going from the run of incredible sold out shows.. This is my favourite track of the ride, its smooth, passionate, and raging. Van McCann vocal range is tested, the rhythm is superb and live, it shines out as one of the best. the phenomenal riff that outbursts toward the end rings similarities of ‘Tyrants’.
The last three songs of the set, ‘7’, ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Tyrants’ were all equally mesmerising. After seeing catfish last November, the band played ‘7’ for the first time on that UK tour. I was completely astonished due to the fact no one knew the words apart from the chorus which was posted on social media. I haven’t seen the band since that gig, and I was blown away by the amount of people singing the lyrics back at Van.
‘Cocoon’, the staple catfish And The Bottlemen song, was sung by the whole audience. “I’m loosing my voice, your loosing yours but I’m gunna need your help with this one” screeched the knackered frontman before plunging into ‘Cocoon’. People clambered on top of others, inflatable crocodiles which had been given to the crowd before they came on, were crowd surfing from front to back. ‘Fuck it if they talk’ was sung by the crowd, Van didn’t even move an inch, he knew it was coming.
By far the best song of the night was ‘Tyrants’. Catfish have closed with this song for what seems like forever, and rightly so. Its perfect to close a set and album with. The atmosphere created by the sounds of distorted and reverbed guitars during the intro, and when the riff kicks in, it sent the whole crowd wild. The edition of an orange smoke grenade, casting a cloud across the front of the stage. The light penetrated it, casting an atmospheric light for the song. It was exactly how id hoped the gig would end. And how you would expect it to end.
All in all, the gig was quality. It was by far the best performance I have seen from the boys from llandudno. The thrashing guitars, the energetic and passionate fans came together to create a fascinating and incredible performance from a band who have come from placing CD’s on cars, to selling out 10,000+ capacity venues in a matter of years. They’ve come along way, but they aren’t done yet.
Catfish And The Bottlemen played: