Gig review: Catfish and The Bottlemen at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Faith Gledhill
Almost seven years to the day since they played at the now defunct Empire in front of 100 or so people, indie heroes Catfish and the Bottlemen’s triumphant return to Leeds finds them on a far more grandeur stage.

Their rise to fame has been a somewhat long haul; 12 years, countless live performances across the globe and three albums later, the ubiquitous adoration for the band is plain to see.

From the moment the Welsh quartet take to the darkened stage of the city’s beloved First Direct Arena, they are met with an almost ceremonial ovation from the torrent of fans below.

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From the blistering first notes of opening number ‘Longshot’ to the venerable grand finale, and perhaps one of their best loved numbers, ‘Cocoon’, the breakneck 20-track set proves that the band are very much at home in an arena setting.

With his distinct vocals and august stage presence, frontman Van McCann is every inch an imperial force of nature.

The interplay between all four on-stage is not only magnetic, but irrefutable evidence of their experience in the field.

Aside from the obvious, there’s something eminently different about seeing them play in such a large venue; there’s a megalithic sense of showmanship at play here, with the band noticeably trying to give fans an all around histrionic experience.

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Resolute McCann once said that he won’t stop until he’s touring stadiums; at this rate, he won’t have long to wait.

It’s safe to say that Catfish and the Bottlemen find themselves on the crest of an almighty wave, showing no signs of diminishing.

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