On the 12th April 2016 Catfish and the Bottlemen played to a lucky 1860 (or so) person crowd at The Brighton Dome, as part of short, sold out UK tour. They were supported by the brilliant Brighton based band Black Honey (who were on my “ones to look out for in 2016” list back in January).
Back in February, Catfish and the Bottlemen announced five UK tour dates (followed by a series of other, mostly singular, drip fed dates) covering the nooks and crannies of some of the UK’s strangest, most obscure and arguably most beautiful and under appreciated, areas and venues. The tickets unsurprisingly sold out within minutes, with many questioning whether or not they actually went on sale in the first place due to the extortionate touting on many second hand ticketing sites minutes after release (although they’ve vowed against such actions by starting to opt for using a balloting system for ticket sales). Shortly following this there was an announcement of the release of a new album, called “The Ride”.
As always, there’s something so fascinating about Catfish concerts. The atmosphere is always so electric that it’s almost buzzing and I think half of that comes from the reception by the audience of all the hugely anthemic songs. This is something that runs throughout and even engages and encapsulates the seated audience too (it it seemingly and increasingly unusual to see nearly all the seated audience standing) . This also continued throughout the lesser known, new songs that they played- like “Anything” and “Red” from the new album.
Of course the band played most of the songs from their formidable debut album, “The Balcony”. From opener “Homesick”- which always gets a huge, warm reception, especially during the extended part of the song at the end which they often add in live- to “Cocoon” and “Pacifier”. McCann’s (lead singer) effortless ‘coolness’ intertwined with the band’s obvious gratitude is somewhat admirable and exemplary of what a good front man should be like, especially when the actual stage set up is so simple (I especially loved the moving camera which seemed to orbit Bob Hall’s (drummer) drum kit).
They played “Soundcheck” and “7” from “The Ride” too. Both of these are singles from the new album, with “Soundcheck” being the first release from back in February and “7” being their newest single. They played “7” during their tour back in November, but the crowd seemed more familiar with it this time (despite not actually being released until fairly recently). I love how the newer material is sounding and shaping up so far. Hopefully “The Ride” will be just as incredible as 2014’s “The Balcony” and we’ll continue to see Catfish flourish as a band like they have done for the last few years.
The band, of course, closed with “Tyrants”. “Tyrants” is simply something else live. You can’t quite describe it. The whole audience hangs off of it as the last song (there’s never an encore for a Catfish show) and I love how it just sums up and rounds off the end. There’s often dancing, arm waving and even the occasional mosh pit when it drops. You’re bound to leave with a few bruises, especially after this song.
As for the venue itself, The Brighton Dome is brilliant. I saw Wolf Alice play there a few weeks prior to seeing Catfish and I’ve once stood and once sat in the venue. The sound carries so well in both seated and standing, so you can enjoy it wherever you are- plus there’s a good view of the stage from pretty much everywhere. The venue feels intimate enough for it to feel special and almost exclusive and I felt that especially at the Catfish gig. I hope Catfish don’t lose this intimacy as they continue to get bigger.
Catfish and the Bottlemen are a band capable of effortlessly playing huge venues- arenas even- to sold out crowds, as exemplified by their sold out Castlefield Bowl show in Manchester this July (which sold out in 6 minutes, according to Gigs and Tours). They’ve already won a Brit award for Best British Breakthrough Artist at this year’s Brit awards, toured the UK (and currently America), are preparing for huge festivals globally (like Truck Festival, which they’re headlining, and Radio One’s Big Weekend) and they’re set to cause yet another storm with their latest album, “The Ride”, which is due out on the 27th May this year. Catfish are on fire and I don’t see their flame being extinguished any time soon.