It’s no secret that Catfish and The Bottlemen’s latest release, The Ride, is a truly remarkable offering, however what a lot of people may not know, is just how remarkable it sounds when you hear it live. That is an experience that I recently had the pleasure of when Catfish and The Bottlemen embarked on their current UK tour, stopping off at the Bournemouth International Centre on November 6th.
The pre-show atmosphere at the BIC was nothing short of electric, with ticket holders ranging from eight year olds to fifty year olds and everything in between, proving that age is just a number when it comes to fans of the Catfish genre. Following a drink, or several, from the bar we took our seats to prepare for the immensely chaotic show that followed.
First up to kick-start the night’s performances were Canadian alt-rockers July Talk. The band consists of lead singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay alongside guitarist Ian Docherty, drummer Danny Miles and bassist John Warburton. July Talk’s live presence was somewhat reminiscent of a child tantrum: incredibly energetic, unmistakably forceful and insurmountably entertaining. Their set list included a number of tracks from their latest album Touch, including ‘Push + Pull’, ‘Picturing Love’ and ‘Beck + Call’ alongside a few classics such as ‘Guns & Ammunition’ and ‘Paper Girl’, much to their audience’s amusement. In between tracks, lead vocalists Dreimanis and Fay took it upon themselves to ensure that the crowd were suitably sustained through a number of less-than-heartwarming displays of affection to exert their volatile energies.
Despite the incredibly passionate performance given by July Talk, the crowd’s excitement only intensified once Catfish and The Bottlemen took to the stage. Their opening number, ‘Homesick’ off of their debut album The Balcony, was met by roars of approval and choruses of repetition as they descended into one of their more recent releases, ‘Soundcheck’. McCann’s vocals were stronger than ever and as depicted through the lack of introductions, anecdotes and usual musician-to-audience interaction, Catfish needed nothing else to thoroughly engage their audience.
In terms of their set list, Catfish ensured a considerable mix between their old and new material, alternating from The Balcony to The Ride at every turn, with only a somewhat startling black out acting as their main transition. Such abrupt changeovers kept the audience forever in suspense, and ensured a complete lack of certainty when it came to being able to predict their next move. All in all, an impressive artistic strategy. Catfish continued to showcase their repertoire as they moved from cathartic performances of ‘Business’ and ’26’ to ‘Fallout’ before introducing a subtle change of pace through an incredible acoustic rendition of ‘Hourglass’ performed solo by McCann himself.
To complete their eclectic act, Catfish and The Bottlemen provided the audience with an awe-inspiring encore, including tracks such as ‘7’ and ‘Cocoon’ before closing the show with ‘Tyrants’, off of their debut album. From start to finish, their stage presence was a pleasure to experience, and from the get go it was obvious that these Welsh rockers needed nothing in the form of extravagant video displays or theatrics to captivate their audience.