How many times have we found ourselves rolling our eyes at a live set and wondering why the band even bothered showing up if they weren't going to slip out of their proverbial onesies (bunny slippers included) and into their big-boy business suits (with suspenders, even)? Well, I was ready to write off Monday's show at Baby's All Right as just another example of lackluster bullshit, after suffering through a set of stupefied shuffling by a buncha Strokes-descended so-and-so's who call themselves The Dreamers
.The name couldn't have been more proper: the way they phoned their set in you'd think they were back at home, nightcaps on and snoring like to beat the band. "Stick a fork in this show and call it done," I murmured to myself as I slurped at my beer. So what if Catfish and the Bottlemen
were up next? I'd heard their CD and liked it, sure, but that first set was such a soporific that I was feeling woozy my old sweet self.
Not so. Catfish and his merry Bottlemen are the pluckiest group o' limeys I ever done set eyes on. From the second these fresh-faced buncha squirts clambered onto the stage you could just feel the moxy flowing out and around, the crowd waking up all as one, and then just dancing their little hearts out. It was all real earnest and sweet, a good dose of rock and roll that, OK, yeah, like the last act owed more than a little to The Strokes but also had a slickness all its own that kept it from sounding derivative. It was also, thankfully, free of all that studio engineering that made the band sound more polished, but also juss' a tad bit more borin' on the album. This is fun music, damn it, and it's done no favors by somebody in the studio going and mucking it up by making it cleaner: why, I hardly recognized the vocals in person, given how lead-singer Van McCann actually sounds his age on stage (now that's a good thing; kid's got some pipes) and not like the 30-something tough production's turned him into on the recordings.
There was enough suggestion in the band to keep things exciting, definitely, a kind of electric sexuality that was also sincere more than sleazy that kept the whole thing moving and kept the ladies squealing but also left this ole' man feelin' his age and wondering, juss' wondering, if he wasn't about ready to change in his contacts for bifocals and a walker. By the time a pair of superfans had jumped up on stage and started dancing with the band and the roadies, I thought I was gonna need some insulin, even. There's nothing wrong with Catfish and the Bottlemen, no sir, at least not nothing that a few years of experience and maybe a little bit the rough life might polish to an even higher karat (or a turn to coal, if you like your rock dirtier than clean). I juss' hope I'm around to see those days.
Catfish and the Bottlemen
For those of you who missed out on the concert, no worries. Just check out the Catfish and the Bottlemen's Baeble Session below here!