For those who know, this will be old news – but Catfish and the Bottlemen are quite simply one of the best live bands in the game. Following their steady rise to fame before 2013’s ‘The Balcony’, during the mammoth tour that followed and all the way up to their recent album ‘The Ride’ – they’ve been wowing crowds at shows and festival slots across the globe.
It’s been a huge factor in their success. Prior to the ‘The Balcony’ emerging, their live shows were recognised as riotous affairs and they benefited from avid fans urging that other music fans from across the spectrum go and catch them on the road. They’ve since headlined Brixton Academy, played a huge slot on Glastonbury’s Other Stage as well as dingy clubs across the UK, but Van McCann and co. have always retained their natural onstage veracity in their live shows. These electrifying live videos best capture Catfish at their natural home – front and centre behind a mic.
‘Sidewinder’ – Camden Barfly, 2011
The Llandudno quartet, at the time made up of McCann, Benji, Bob and Billy Bibby, played one of their first London shows at the Barfly in Camden back in October 2011. The setlist comprised mainly of tracks from their first two EP releases ‘Poetry & Fuel’ and ‘Beautiful Decay’, but of the eight songs played, only two made it onto their debut album three years later – ‘Sidewinder’ and ‘Tyrants’. Check out the ace opening track of the gig below, ‘Sidewinder’, showcasing Vann’s furious vocals and the track’s screeching guitar riff at a still formative stage.
Catfish and The Bottlemen – Sidewinder – Camden Barfly London 14-10-11
‘Tyrants’ – London KOKO, 2012
Fast forward a year and the boys are in far bigger surroundings at London’s KOKO. The capacity had increased but they tackle the occasion with ease, in particular on ‘Tyrants’, the fan favourite which has gone on to become their standard set closer.
Live @ KOKO Camden, Friday 13th January 2012
‘Pacifier’ – The Factory, Manchester, 2013
At this point, they must have known they were onto something big. Their track ‘Homesick’ charted (at 182) but the hype and enthusiasm from fans was swelling consistently. In this early version of ‘Pacifier’ a well-mannered stage invasion breaks out at the end – but the access didn’t last much longer when festivals and academy shows came calling.
Great live band.
‘Kathleen’ – Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Glasgow, 2014
Scroll through the accompanying YouTube comments on this video and you’ll see a simple prophecy from Katy Beckett; “Will always be one of my favorite bands, they’re gonna get bigggg this year”. ‘Bigggg’ is perhaps underselling just how easily they made 2014 their year. Their debut album ‘The Balcony’, comprising of the gigantic tunes that they’ve been slaving away over for their entire career, arrived in September and entered the charts at Number Ten. Months before in May, the band cemented their place on the festival circuit with a set on the BBC Introducing stage. The striking realism of ‘Kathleen’ was an obvious highlight and this video captures the Vann’s ever-improving vocals set to the pounding rhythm set by drummer Bob Hall. Or ‘bigggg’ as Katy would say.
Catfish and the Bottlemen perform Kathleen at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Glasgow. For their full set head to: //www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/bigweekend
‘Cocoon’ – Reading Festival, 2015
In 2015, Catfish truly arrived into the eyes of the mainstream. Their album was nearly a year old, they’d just completed a sold-out UK tour and provided Glastonbury with a thoroughly wet yet majestic sing-along, however it was Reading & Leeds Festivals at the end of August which acted as their coronation as the UK’s newest indie darlings. They didn’t even headline the tent, though they might as well have, as the Radio 1/NME boasted one of the biggest crowds ever seen in the tent. Their 45 minute set was made up of nine tracks from ‘The Balcony’ and it was their penultimate track ‘Cocoon’ that cemented their place at the top. The final chorus, which Van briefly bequeaths to the crowd, is a spine-tingling moment. A set for the ages.
Catfish and the Bottlemen Reading Festival Radio 1 / NME Stage Little John’s Farm Reading, UK August 29, 2015 Setlist: Rango Pacifier Fallout Homesick 26 Business Kathleen Homesick Cocoon Tyrants
‘7’ – Glastonbury Festival, 2016
The band left very little time between the last set and recording their new album, successfully knocking out ‘The Ride’ in a matter of months. When Glastonbury rolled round again – with a new album to showcase – the boys treated the crowd a smattering of new tunes from the album, including the album opener ‘7’. At this point, Van is a seasoned frontman and the remainder of the band have never sounded tighter. Later this year, the arenas beckon…
Catfish and the Bottlemen perform 7 during their Surprise Guest set on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury 2016. Visit the BBC Glastonbury website for more videos and photos //www.bbc.co.uk/glastonbury