(Photos by B51 Photography
Catfish and the Bottlemen's debut album, The Balcony
, has been one of my favorite albums for the past two years now. It's one of those records where when you listen to it, you can't help but to think how incredible it would sound live and fortunately, I had the opportunity to find out last week at Terminal 5.
The band kicked off the show the right way, with an energetic, guitar-driven instrumental that went right into the first song, "Rango." Colorful lights were flashing, the crowd was dancing and Van McCann was somehow holding the microphone while playing guitar. Not sure how he pulled that off but it was impressive and intense to watch. They seemed to stick to the same guitar solos they wrote for the album but managed to add the tiniest bend in each note which made a huge difference. It sounded effortless, soaring right through you and even though you heard the same solo a million times, it felt like you were hearing it for the first time ever.
They played my favorite song, "Pacifier," second, so I was already satisfied for the rest of the set. The way McCann sings, "she deffo didn't like that no," in each verse is so irresistible that the whole crowd has no choice but to scream along -- and I most certainly did not hold back either.
One thing I noticed about Catfish and the Bottlemen is that they don't talk a lot in between songs. This is because they are rock stars. They don't express their feelings and they don't have time to waste, and I like that. Every once in awhile, they'd take a second to say thank you and appreciate those who bought the album, but that was it. No personal stories, no fan interaction, nothing. Part of me wishes McCann would try crowd surfing, but at the same time, their straightforwardness is what makes them so damn mysterious. They always leave us wanting more and it's a mean little game they play but it totally works
So they continue to blow through their set (like I said, they waste no time) and later on we get to "Business." They were playing each song like the studio version up until this point, where they started improvising during the bridge. This moment in particular was extremely refreshing because they were finally switching things up. If I wanted to hear the exact same versions of each song, I'd just listen to the album at home. Johnny Bond and Benji Blakeway are standing off to the side doing their thing while McCann runs around the middle of the stage in circles, frantically playing guitar over a steady bass line and thumping drum beat. McCann kept teasing us, making us think he was going to start singing soon, but this manic jam session went on for about five minutes. Sometimes he would just scream "Woo!" and you'd hear it echo throughout the whole room which was energizing enough in itself. He started singing some improvised lyrics in the moment and that freshened things up even more. Somewhere in between all of this, McCann manages to break his microphone, but had a replacement within seconds and recovered smoothly. Remember, these are rock stars. They need to break stuff! Right before they went back into the chorus, McCann subtly threw in "Ignition Remix" by R. Kelly. It was so subtle that I'm not sure if some people even noticed.
McCann probably interacted with the crowd the most during their song "Homesick." At the end of the song when the music stopped, the entire audience sang the last chorus together in unison. It was a powerful moment and it was even more beautiful to see the astonished look on McCann's face when he watched us sing back to him. And at the end, yet again, all he says is "thank you."
McCann once mentioned that "Cocoon" was his favorite track on the album and man, it shows. The band performed with so much passion throughout the entire night but then when that song started, it was a whole new level of energy. They performed the song as if it was brand new and they just finished writing it. In the best way possible.
Closing the show with "Tyrants," Catfish chose to end the show how they started it -- strong. This track is also the last song on the record because it's an explosive musical adventure that just doesn't belong in the middle of a set. It's so powerful that I didn't want
the band to do an encore. It would just be weird. Nothing could follow this song because it is so satisfyingly compelling.
This band is one of the bands to bring true rock 'n roll back. Between the all black outfits, English accents and Blakeway's Brian May-inspired 'fro, Catfish and the Bottlemen are picture perfect. *Swoon!* And more importantly, McCann's sex-obsessed storytelling combined with the band's explosive instruments make for a perfect, straight up rock band. Their sex appeal is so impactful that two strangers next to me in the crowd started making out, and it was extremely repulsive but hey, they were in the moment! Rock 'n roll, man! That's just what this band will do to you. Catfish and the Bottlemen are guaranteed to make you fall in love.
Our Session With The Band
Who else thinks Van looks like a young Mick Jagger?