Catfish and the Bottlemen rocked Sheffield’s Plug on Tuesday 2nd December 2014 as part of their sold out UK tour promoting their debut album ‘The Balcony’.
Catfish and the Bottlemen are one the fastest-growing indie bands in UK right now.
Consisting of Robert ‘Van’ McCann, Johnny Bond, Benji Blakeway and Robert Hall, the indie rock band was born in 2007 in Llandudno, Wales. The four band members are all English and moved to the Welsh seaside town from elsewhere.
A test-tube baby, as mentioned in the lyrics to the band’s song ‘Fallout’, frontman Van McCann spent much of his early years in Australia and gained the inspiration for the band’s rather unusual name during this time after meeting a busker calling himself ‘Catfish the Bottleman’.
The story of the band’s rise really is inspirational for any band just starting out. After six years of playing small gigs and trying to get noticed, they were finally signed up by Communion Records in 2013.
Since then, their success has been nothing short of incredible. Having already built up quite a following in places such as Manchester and Sheffield over the years, their popularity and fan base has spread further and further afield.
The past two summers have see them perform to large crowds at many festivals in the UK and Europe, including Reading and Leeds. And following a switch to Island Records early in the year, the four-piece released their debut album ‘The Balcony’on 14th September. This reached the top ten in the UK album charts, a great feat for any release, never mind a debut.
The accompanying tour to promote ‘The Balcony’ really showed the extent of the band’s success with every single one of the 18 dates selling out well in advance. Due to such high demand, a second UK tour for the spring was announced. And over half of these dates have already also sold out months before, including two nights at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
The queue stretched back some distance outside Plug on a freezing cold Tuesday evening as fans waited excitedly to get inside and see Catfish and the Bottlemen.
‘Honeyblood’ provided support for the evening. The Scottish guitar/drum duo, made up of Stina Tweedale and Shona McVicar, let their music do most of the talking as they said little to the large crowd except to thank them and convey their delight at the opportunity.
Their set lasted for 30 minutes and included the tracks ‘Fall Forever’ and ‘Bud’. It has been an exciting year for the duo, who released their debut album in May and performed at a number of festivals including their native ‘T in the Park’. With supporting slots for the likes of ‘Palma Violets’, ‘Real Estate’ and now ‘Catfish and the Bottlemen’ on their CV, ‘Honeyblood’ are certainly an exciting prospect and ones to watch.
Chants of ‘Yorkshire’, a regular occurrence at Sheffield gigs, were temporarily drowned out by a massive roar from the sellout crowd as the headliners took to the stage at around 9:15pm to the soundtrack from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
Frontman ‘Van’ earned himself another huge cheer after shouting ‘Sheffield!’ before bursting in to the opening song ‘Rango’.
The frontman then introduced the band, in case anybody in attendance wasn’t aware by now, and said “It’s been far too long Sheffield.” The band the proceeded to play their album in it’s entirety.
Van’s energy on-stage was truly impressive and never wavered, performing with such passion and intensity for the duration of the hour set as the band continued with ‘Pacifier’ and ‘Sidewinder’.
The atmosphere inside the venue was incredible and there was a real feeling from the crowd of savouring the moment as they witnessed a band that are certain to play far bigger stages in the future.
Two of the album’s singles, ‘Fallout’ and ‘Kathleen’, received particularly rapturous receptions from the audience as Van announced them. And there was rarely a moment when the crowd were not singing at the top of their voices and this visibly overwhelmed the frontman, who occasionally stepped back from the mic to soak up the feeling of having his choruses screamed back at him from an adoring crowd.
Van’s likeable character has earned him many admirers and this was on show tonight with plenty of light-hearted chat with the crowd between tracks. Be it setting off yet another round of Yorkshire chants – something he added was a good tactic to buy him some guitar-tuning time, or starting a competition to see who had bought the most copies of their album – one man’s claim of four being jokingly dismissed by the frontman who added that “You’re straight on Youtube listening to us, you are!”
‘Homesick’ provided one of the best live moments of the night as Van got the crowd to sing the chorus back to him over and over again, clearly loving every second of it. The spotlight then shone down on the young vocalist as he brought out the acoustic guitar for ‘Hourglass’.
‘Cocoon’ followed, before ‘Tyrants’ brought an superb performance to it’s conclusion.
The rise of ‘Catfish and the Bottlemen’ has been quite remarkable and is likely to continue as the band play bigger and bigger venues – returning to Sheffield in April to perform the larger O2 Academy, a show which is obviously already sold out!
Comparisons to the Arctic Monkeys are aplenty. And with a raw energy on par with early AM, a successful debut album and a fan base to match, their is no reason why ‘Catfish and the Bottlemen’ cannot get close to the heights of Sheffield’s biggest band.