“Mate, I can’t believe you’ve never listened to a Catfish album”, and I, unfortunately, hadn’t. I’ve seen Catfish & The Bottlemen a couple of times at festivals but were never a ‘must-see’ band of the weekend. However, this was all about to change, to my absolute surprise.
The FlyDSA arena in Sheffield was hosting the Welsh formed rockers along with Scottish band, Twin Atlantic. Catfish’s rise has been a seemingly cloak covered affair, formed in 2007 the band has a had a number of quite well to do albums from 2013’s, The Balcony which had a number of blistering hits and 2016’s, The Ride. Now in 2019, they have recently released their latest album, The Balance on the back of three excellent singles tracks.
Twin Atlantic are first up on stage and play a blistering set including tracks, The Chaser, Brothers & Sisters and No Sleep. The band go down exceptionally well with the Sheffield crowd and deservedly so, but the highlight of the night is about to take the stage and the die-hard fans are craving for the first glimpse of Van McCann.
Taking to the stage, McCann and co open up with the thunderous Long Shot. A blaze of neon-lit screen images support the backdrop and black and white video adds an artistic quality to the production. The sound is exceptionally loud, absolutely ear-shattering, but the guys are playing with such buoyancy and invigoration that the atmosphere is easy to be caught up in.
Churning through hits Kathleen, Soundcheck, Pacifier and Fallout, Catfish’s immense stage quality is whipping up a crowd, predominantly full of young ’uns and seemingly carrying every colour of flare available and the odd inflatable crocodile.
The fast-paced set is heavy on guitar-riffed song extensions but Sheffield arena is loving every second of McCann’s presence. Hitting out with more classics, 2all, Homesick, Hourglass and Fluctuate, the sheer stage presence of Catfish is almost euphoric.
As the set rolls to a tumultuous end, the band finishes with Cocoon and Tyrant and a heartfelt thanks to the crowd, “Sheffield you have been amazing”. It’s been quite an amazing gig in all fairness, highly unexpected and heavier than I’d imagined. Headlining and selling out an arena venue is quite a sturdy task for the biggest of artists, never mind for one of such youth.
If this is a snapshot of festival performances then the summer is going to be a busy and sweaty season for Catfish & The Bottlemen.