Catfish and the Bottlemen in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 16th May 2016
How do you make something out of essentially nothing? Catfish and the Bottlemen had their ‘rabbit out of a hat’ moment at the Olympia Theatre, delivering a devastating set from one album and a handful of singles.
Fans are rabid for the Welsh three piece, and are intensely audible throughout the night, much to frontman Van McCann’s (no, really!) delight. Opening with a trippy cover of Helter Skelter by The Beatles, Homesick is the face-melting follow-up, with McCann demonstrating his trademark cool confidence as he works the stage.
Big hitters Kathleen and Cocoon follow – a fairly predictable running order given the band’s limited back catalogue. New single Soundcheck from their imminent sophomore effort ‘The Ride’, is vocally sound – McCann has a knack for building intensity, particularly on ‘The Balcony’ album track Pacificer.
Mix CDs (remember them?) are thrown on stage throughout, with McCann attempting to read their titles while also still singing himself. Credit where it’s due, he does a good job of keeping the show going, without seeming dismissive of the gestures.
As a band, they are furiously rambunctious. Typical of new bands, they bounce and bob around the stage, their demeanors playful throughout. With that said, it’s never sloppy, over-the-top or brash. You’d imagine that, in their heads, they’re just four lads playing a show as best they possibly can.
Sidewinder‘s introductory riffs are blistering, but the strobe lighting becomes so intense it’s distracting. At this point the lads are physically disintegrating – drenched in sweat and red light – but continue to be carried by the audience’s sheer enthusiasm for their work.
A softer moment comes with Hourglass, which sees McCann’s vocals overtaken by the audience. Seven is demanded by the swelling crowd – their most pop-punk track that shifts any still bodies out of seats. Their stage presence as a group grows more erratic as the night progresses.
Tyrants closes proceedings, with McCann’s vocals beginning to recede into himself. It’s just as well there’s no encore, because it’s up for debate whether the lads would have been physically or emotionally capable of pulling another one out of the bag.
Catfish and the Bottlemen’s brand of rock is unique in that, although the song-writing is quintessentially simple, it stirs up emotions overwhelmingly in its listeners. Even acoustic wonder Hourglass is dressed up as a fool-actin’ confession, when it’s actually a very sincere statement of love. This intensity and passion carries through ten-fold in their live act.
With ‘The Ride’ slated for release later this month, they look set to go above and beyond the already high standard set, if the show is anything to go by.