LIVE REVIEW: Catfish and the Bottlemen at The Ruby Lounge, Manchester – 1st March 2014

Catfish and the Bottlemen is probably a name that your quite familiar with nowadays, the Llandudno based quartet have been going from strength to strength in the past 12 months. After being signed to Communion Records last year, it meant that their tremendous work ethic was finally paying off. Catfish and the Bottlemen are clearly a band that live for the road and the relentless touring that comes with it, after releasing countless killer singles in between touring the world, it has finally come time for them to release their much anticipated début record, due out later this year.


The boys, for the past week, have been touring the UK on a small intimate tour. The tour wrapped last night and what better way to end the tour it on, than at a sold out show at Manchester’s Ruby Lounge? A surprisingly small space for a band that is growing in popularity at the rate of which Catfish are. I feel that a venue of this size will be a thing of the past come the end of the year, and true to form, the gig was sold out weeks before the show. After being stuck on the motorway for the best part of yesterday, their van had broken down AGAIN – Van said that this was the fifth time in five days it had done this. It just meant even more so, that Catfish were well and truly hyped for the night’s gig that followed and not even broken down transport can stop them from playing a blinding set.

A Manchester crowd always goes wild for the Catfish boys and last night’s gig was no exception to that rule. The guys smashed it and the crowd loved every second of it, equally both feeding off each other’s energy. The boys passion comes through in every lick, riff, beat and breath, these boys put every ounce of their energy into their music and it shows in their live shows. The crowd pick up on this as soon as first song, Rango, is in motion and both band and crowd are in sync, a fluid motion of rapturous excitement fills the room and the crowd goes wild. It is one of the most satisfying things to see a band that have built this from the ground up, with the simple combination of hard work, true determination and talent. 


What followed was something that can only be described as an adrenaline fuelled love fest, the crowd singing in unison with Van, jumping, raving, just total madness ensued. The band clearly have a tight live set and strong stage presence, and led by Van McCann, they are in good hands. McCann’s charisma is something that instantly grabs you, it exudes from him. Also, you can’t help but be enthralled by his performance. It becomes clear that music is an extension of himself; he totally commits himself to his performance, body and soul: head down, rocking out, amp turned up to the max kinda thing. Making it is impossible not to get swept up in the wall of sound that’s coming from the stage, when going to a Catfish gig don’t be afraid to just let go and feel the music. The highlight for me comes in the form of their track, Sidewinder, it’s an absolute beast live, it’s manic riffs and infectious energy create pure madness, this is definitely one of the dark horses of their set. Trust me, when they finally release it, hopefully as a single, it’s gonna blow up.

The set was filled with a good combination of old and new tracks, previous single, Homesick and current single, Kathleen, made a very welcome appearance. Kathleen was definitely one of the highlights of the night, everyone seems to have taken to this song instantly, after it receiving it’s first radio play on Zane Lowe’s show last week, it has taken the band to a whole new level. The song thrives in a live situation, it’s bruising drums, punchy rhythm and snarling, sweet vocals are it’s strength, at the core as always though is intensely catchy and addictive lyrics, the chorus reigns down on you and grabs you and won’t let you go, as Van belts out “I gotta give it to you, you give me problems”. You can’t help but realise that you’re in the midst of watching a band that are ready to take the world by storm, they’ve got the ability, the talent, the drive and most importantly, the live set and catalogue of songs that will take them very far.

They steam through every song with ease and precision, the little moments in between songs are what you come to appreciate. McCann’s banter with the crowd is a nice moment, focussing on a few lads at the front, that had been to their gig in Stoke and had come to see them a second time round, McCann made a point of taking some time out to appreciate their dedication “Talk to me Stoke”. His appreciation comes through tenfold, always stopping to say “thank you” after each song. That’s one thing that undoubtedly you know won’t change no matter how successful they get, that they still will be as humble as they were in the beginning, which is something to praise them on. The only thing that I was disheartened by was the fact that A.S.A is no longer in the set, it was severely missed, not only by me, but a few of the crowd were asking for it too, I just feel like it’s a bad move to take that staple song out of the set, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it was an incredible night.

Set List: 1- Rango, 2- Kathleen, 3- Cocoon, 4- Pacifier, 5- Massapeque, 6- Sidewinder, 7- Hourglass, 8- Homesick, 9- HB, 10- Tyrants 

You don’t have to wait too long to get your next Catfish fix, as they are heading out on another UK tour in May, tickets are now on sale here and catch them at various festivals across the UK this summer. For more info on the band, check out the following links below.

Website . Facebook . Twitter

Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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