Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen at Wedgewood Rooms (06/11/2014)

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Catfish and the Bottlemen have had an unforgettable year so far: signing to renowned music label Island Records, releasing their debut album ‘The Balcony’ and ending the year with a full UK tour. With big backing from Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1, frequently using their music for his ‘Hottest Record In The World’ feature, the Welsh band are well and truly on the rise.

Typically dreadful British weather preceded the gig, but luckily the support act were well up for it –  brother-sister combo Southern (ironic considering they hail from Belfast) provided an upbeat, original sound – with their latest song ‘Cool Kid’ provoking the biggest reaction from the audience.

Kicking off the second night of their maiden UK tour with the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ theme tune leading into the brilliant ‘Rango’, Catfish and the Bottlemen had an already enthusiastic crowd going mental from the off. The Bottlemen played with so much confidence and stage presence, as shown most evidently in my personal favourite song of theirs, and probably their next single, ‘Pacifier’. Lead singer Van’s Welsh vocals really stood out, overpowering the backing instruments as he dominated the stage.

The intimate Wedgewood Rooms threatened to burst when the anthemic ‘Kathleen’ was played; I’ve no doubt the opening lyric ‘You’re simpatico’ would’ve been heard by most of Portsmouth, such was the incredible fan reaction the band were getting. Not that they were taking it for granted though, seeming awestruck in places and thanking the crowd at every opportunity – before then composing themselves and going mental once again.

Their latest single ‘Cocoon’ was exceptional live as well, especially when an emotive audience rendition of the chorus, after the song had finished, rocked the venue. The best thing about the band was their sheer enjoyment of playing to a passionate crowd, suggesting crowd surfing and mosh pits and those requests were duly accepted!

The locals chanted ‘Play Up Pompey’ spontaneously during a momentary lull in noise, with the Bottlemen joining in – with the inclusion of ‘Bondy’ (lead guitarist) instead of Pompey for another warm moment of fan-interaction.

Finishing with the final track on their album, ‘Tyrants’, was a masterstroke. The song builds and builds before  a trademark incredible guitar solo finale that wouldn’t have felt out of place at a Foo’s gig. I’ve seen some brilliant acts in the past and this was right up there with the best live performances I’ve seen, an incredible feat for still such a new band. I feel as though this could be one of those memorable musical moments before ‘the Bottlemen’ ramp up another level and are selling out world-famous venues next year. I honestly cannot recommend them enough.

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Muse-worshiping, F1-career-aiming Aeronautics student.

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