Live Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen, Rock City Nottingham, 10th Nov 2015

Photo credit: Jordan Curtis Hughes

Photo credit: Jordan Curtis Hughes

These four Llandudno lads have quickly become the hottest indie band in the world. They have toured relentlessly in support of their debut album ‘The Balcony’, including delivering one of the stand-out sets at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Even their harshest critics can’t deny that they are one of the best live acts around and the band have one of the first ever BBC Music Awards sitting proudly on their mantelpiece. Every stop on their latest UK tour was sold out, but I managed to squeeze in to a packed venue to see them in their element.

Support came from The London Souls, who were ironically from New York rather than London. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their performance. The two piece band struck me as being The White Stripes in reverse. The Drums were generally at the forefront with some sharp killer riffs to add a little extra bite. They are a solid and dependable garage rock band and clearly live and breathe performing for a live audience. The songs need a bit of work to get a good hook to get people coming back for more, but if they pull that off then they are in a good position to do well.

You could not have fit another person into Rock City that night if you tried. When the band eventually emerged the crowd erupted into anarchy. I spent the whole night being tossed around like a ship in a storm. There were dozens of people crowdsurfing and most of us ended up drenched in sweat and other people’s booze. But there was beauty in the madness. You need to have earned the adoration of the audience to get such a reaction, and the Catfish lads did just that. They ploughed through the entirety of the debut and the crowd sang every word (with the exception of the brand new song ‘7’, though I don’t think it’ll take folks long to learn it!)

Catfish and the Bottlemen have perfected the anthemic hit formula, whether it’s the powerhouse chorus of ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Homesick’ or the acoustic break of ‘Hourglass’. Where Catfish really excel is writing songs that connect. Frontman Van McCann’s lyrics speak to a teenage audience with a life of extreme highs and lows. The songs are full of malaise and disdain for the world, but also joie de vivre in enjoying the little things in life. The boys have promised that their second album will be bigger and better and I’m inclined to believe them. You have to be on the right track to get such a fanatic response night after night.