Their name has been tumbling off the lips of rock fans everywhere due to the plethora of media attention they’ve been receiving in the past year, so if you don’t know who they are yet, you should probably stick your nose out of the rock you’ve been hiding under every once in a while.
Last time they were in Leeds, Catfish and the Bottlemen absolutely smashed the Festival Republic stage and it’s clear from the very second that the hordes of fans swarm upon the venue that expectations are high and tonight is going to be phenomenal.
Brother and sister duo Southern are the first to grace the stage with their blues fused rock and roll twang, and exceed all expectations that could be set of a family pair that have been in business for only two years – they’re confident, smooth, and the perfect composers of a crowd that are loving every minute of their set.
Then, the lights drop and the soundtrack to of Pirates of the Caribbean thunders through the speakers, sending an electric pulse through the crowd that’s almost deadly. On walk Catfish and the Bottlemen, clad in their leather jackets and surrounded by a smoke of self-assurance as the crowd transcends into a wave of madness. The very first chord of Rango sends the venue into a mental frenzy that lasts until the end of their set. Despite claiming that his voice is on its ‘last legs,’ frontman Van McCann doesn’t hold back and performs every note to perfection despite being almost drowned out by the 1000 strong crowd. Sweat is dripping from every forehead five minutes into their set, shoes are being thrown everywhere and at least a half a dozen crowd-surfers have gone over the barrier already.
Perhaps the only flaw of the night is that it’s very much the Van McCann show, with the rest of the band resigned to merely playing their instruments in their set stage places (though still playing excellently nevertheless), but Van’s interaction with the crowd and his dynamic energy fuelling the masses at his feet are more than enough to carry the crowd.
It isn’t just the hits such as Kathleen and Pacifier that get a roaring response, every song on the set list is reverberated off the walls. Penultimate song ‘Cocoon’ is the highlight of the entire evening, with the crowd chanting the chorus several times over to the point that it’s deafening. After an elongated and explosive rendition of finale Tyrants, it’s time for Catfish to leave the stage with the promise to return to Leeds O2 Academy next year. Amazingly, the energy continues to pulse through the venue as the crowd filters out into the tranquil Sunday evening that had been forgotten in the heat of the concert, proof that tonight has been one that verifies why Catfish and the Bottlemen deserve every ounce of praise they get.