Emily Mertens

Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen Concert

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Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the Radio 1 Big Weekend, held in Earlham Park, Norwich. Picture by: Matt Crossick/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the Radio 1 Big Weekend, held in Earlham Park, Norwich.
Picture by: Matt Crossick/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Catfish and the Bottlemen first formed in 2007. The four members include Van McCann, Benji Blakeway, Bob Hall and Johnny Bond. Eight years later, after a long-awaited rise to fame, their UK tour sold out within minutes to venues holding up to 10,000 fans. Their concert felt like an extensive celebration of their recent success and everyone involved was loving it.

Catfish and the Bottlemen hooked the audience before entering on stage. We were in a mixed bunch to say the least, including teens, dads, and even a woman who had brought her young child. The lights went dark, causing everyone to erupt into cheers and clapping. However, to our confusion, The Beatles began to play. After a few minutes of turning heads and confused frowns, the four members entered stage and the cheering continued. The choice of entrance may have been to signify how far the band had come (before getting signed, the band use to cover The Beatles’ songs in pubs.) Or hell, maybe Vann just felt like playing a bit of The Beatles for us.

The band didn’t have to do much to grab the audience’s attention; their songs did that job for them. Straight away with their first track, Rango, you could hear the audience singing along proudly; all 10,000 of us connecting and bonding over our love for the song. Groups of friends clung on to one another, shouting the lyrics in each other’s faces with grins ear to ear. Plastic cups filled with the remains of a poorly-poured beer flew across the crowd throughout the gig. This was the only time I felt grateful for my short height of 5’3 at a concert as I was too short to be hit by the wet splutter being sprayed row by row.

Although the atmosphere was electric and the band were certainly doing their job very well, I expected there to be more interaction between the band members themselves and the crowd. Lead singer McCann is known for his witty personality from his interviews but this was not directed on stage. The only time he spoke was to thank the audience “for everything.” The last thing I expected was for Vann McCann to be a quiet man on stage. However, I guess these days it is “all about the music.”

Due to only producing one album, Catfish were not on for too long and this was the first concert I have experienced without an encore. However, it was nice to witness a concert where every single song that was played seemed equally as popular. Apart from half way through the gig when an unknown song was played. Little did we know that this was the debut of their new song, ‘7’. The green lighting portrayed the toned down style of the track, allowing everyone to relax and listen to the lyrics which sounded quite emotional. Despite no one knowing the song, chatter was kept to a minimum as all were focused on the mystery of this unknown track. Arms beating the air were replaced with slow body sways. I, like many others who saw it live, am already excited for this new song to be released.

I walked out of Brixton feeling overly satisfied with their performance and I can now happily tick off ‘Catfish and the Bottlemen’ on my concert bucket list.

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