Welsh rockers Catfish And The Bottlemen have enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom since the release of their debut album. ‘The Balcony’ was released at the end of last year and critical acclaim, appearances on American chat shows and numerous awards soon followed. It also meant that the band easily sold out the Academy well ahead of their gig. Too often bands touring their debut album haven’t honed their live skills and leave the crowd underwhelmed. Catfish And The Bottlemen could not be accused of this, based on this showing.
Walking on stage to the theme song from Pirates of The Caribbean, they resembled boxers entering a ring pre-fight. The band seems to have found the fine line in attracting fans from all walks of life. Teary eyed, high pitched fan girls mixed shoulder to shoulder with hardened rockers in a scene that took many by surprise.
Opening the set with Rango showed just how polished the band are as a live outfit. Taken slightly aback with how familiar the Irish crowd were with their songs they proudly announce that ‘The Balcony’ has reached gold status. And, with Dublin acting as the final stop on their tour, they plan to celebrate.
As the set rumbles on they work through their album, seeming to impress all in attendance. A comment by a crowd member comparing the band to ‘what The Strokes could’ve been if they had balls’ is a fitting description of what is on show onstage. These guys are good. Homesick, arguably the best song on the album, ends with a fantastic acapella sing-along with the band and everyone in the crowd.
The approach that Catfish And The Bottlemen take to their music is not new. The Strokes, The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand and The Kooks are only a short selection of bands in a long list that have applied catchy hooks and intriguing lyrics to songs, all while looking effortlessly cool.
While not game changing, the level of skill at which they deliver is something that hasn’t been seen in quite a while. The chest rattling rock songs are paired perfectly with the acoustic and stripped back Hourglass which is dedicated to family in the crowd.
The undoubted skills of drummer Bob Hall is a fundamental element in the band’s make-up and one that may be overlooked by many concertgoers as a consequence of his stage position. One of the highlights of the entire night was seeing him effortlessly get through the incredibly technical Cocoon while still managing to furnish an accomplished smile as the last symbol rang out.
With only one album to their name so far, although rumor has it that album two and three are already finished, the set was destined to be short. The traditional ‘Olé’ chant is preceded with a song dedication to Conor McGregor of all people ahead of his fight against Jose Aldo. Finishing the night with a blistering version of Tyrants, their set at Longitude in the Summer cannot come quick enough.