Gig review: Radio X Presents Catfish and the Bottlemen

There aren’t many better ways to banish the Monday blues other than to spend an evening at Sheffield’s O2 Academy getting up close and personal with Catfish and the Bottlemen during an eagerly anticipated and rare, intimate gig.

By Alana Roberts
Wednesday, 07 August, 2019, 24:01
Radio X presents Catfish and the Bottlemen at Sheffield's O2 Academy on Monday

Having performed regularly to tens of thousands and with a string of sell out shows, festival headline dates and international appearances already under their belts, the Llandudno rockers returned to the steel city once more, this time seemingly taking a step away from the norm to perform for a much smaller crowd of around 2,000 fans.

However, despite the smaller venue, there was nothing paired back about Monday's sold-out show with an atmosphere that can only be described as electric straight from the off.

Opening with new single ‘Longshot’ it only took until the chorus for frontman Van McCann to be drowned out by the rapture of the crowd as they belted out the lyrics in unison, a far cry from the bands early days playing in the Frog and Parrot in Division Street in 2011.

Catfish frontman Van McCann commanded crowds with his energy

This was very much a precedent that set the tone of the evening, with Van’s incredible energy commanding the crowds through early favourites such as Kathleen and Pacifier – with every verse certain to be bellowed back at full pelt.

At times Van looked like he was performing in a different band to his solemn bandmates, thrashing about and wiggling his hips while playing the guitar and chasing the microphone stand round the stage, oozing charm.

As for the crowd, I don't think I've ever seen so many people clambering on each other’s shoulders at once, perhaps feeding off a certain rock’n’roll energy that kept them truly boisterous throughout the entire 17-song set.

The air-punch anthemics of 7 and Cocoon acted as an exciting encore to wrap the night up perfectly, with an energy that seemed to almost reach a higher level than previously thought possible.

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Catfish played the intimate gig as part of the Radio X presents series

It was a finale that was certain to please even the wavering members of the crowd at the end of the pounding 90-minute set (of which I did not see many!) with the sea of fans on the floor jumping for the entire duration.

Ultimately the stand-out moment for me was closer, Tyrants, something which kept you wanting more and, I’m not ashamed to admit, had me eagerly researching where I could see the band next as soon as they left the stage.

One thing is certain, Catfish are not game-changers, and at times are somewhat reminiscent of a young Arctic Monkeys.

But, as their Radio X Presents gig in Sheffield showed, they do offer something unique, a rebellious yet pure energy that I feel has helped them secure the title as one of the biggest indie-bands around.

I’m sure they are only going to keep growing in popularity, enjoying all the success that comes with it, and I for one can’t wait to see what they do next.

Radio X will be broadcasting the Catfish and the Bottlemen gig again from 9pm on Saturday, August 10.