Live: Catfish And The Bottlemen @ Guildhall Southampton

Live: Catfish And The Bottlemen @ O2 Guildhall Southampton

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

To say that the band Catfish and the Bottlemen are on an upward trajectory would be something of an understatement. A little over two years ago, they were playing support slots in dank basement bars across the country – and now, via a top ten gold selling debut album, they have just concluded a UK tour that sold out every venue. Their two nights at London’s Brixton Academy sold out in six minutes. With a combined capacity of close to ten thousand, that’s twenty-seven tickets every second. Wow.

An expectant audience awaits Catfish and the Bottlemen @ O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

An expectant audience awaits Catfish and the Bottlemen @ O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

The O2 Guildhall Southampton gig was the last of this tour and to the strains of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter, the band wandered onto the stage in a nonchalant manner indicative of a group that knew ninety-five percent of the hard work was behind them. At least I think they did. The smoke machine operator must have been on piece rates because in the interval between the support act London Souls and CATB, more particulates were pumped into the auditorium than the average diesel could have managed in twice the time. That, allied to the fact that it was pitch black and the band were all dressed as if they were about to deliver a box of Milk Tray chocolates (anybody under the age of thirty might need to check YouTube to understand that reference), did make it pretty difficult to work out what was happening at all.

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

It didn’t take long to find out though, because when Van McCann and the rest of the band launched into opening number Rango, our internal organs had a little wobble and the audience behind us went absolutely berserk. I took a nice shower of lager too. At least I hope it was lager.

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

CATB are an interesting band to see live. Whilst Johnny Bond (lead guitar), Benji Blakeway (bass) and Bob Hall (drums) remained relatively static, McCann was charging around as if he’d overdosed on Duracell batteries and I fully imagine that practically all the eyes in the audience were solely on him. By the time three songs were done and I left the photo pit, you could have practically wrung the frontman out.

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

McCann certainly didn’t want to go crazy in isolation though and took many opportunities to stoke up the crowd. He clearly got a kick out of seeing the frenzied swathes of adolescent youth bouncing around and got a kick out of hearing them scream his lyrics back at him – and who wouldn’t? Despite the rapid growth in popularity and adulation for this band, it was pleasing to note that McCann remained focused on the fan experience. During one moment of considered calm (a classy acoustic performance of the song Hourglass that he sang in isolation), he stopped playing because he’d noticed that one of the venue security was giving an audience member some grief. McCann’s got form for this kind of thing. At one of the recent Brixton gigs, he told the audience that if anybody got chucked out for over-zealous antics, he’d have them on the guest list the following night.

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at the O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

With only a debut album to fall back upon, it was no surprise that The Balcony got played in its entirety and with that record having a running time of only thirty-seven minutes, it was no surprise that CATB delivered extended live versions of a number of songs. They closed out the encore with an anthemic rendition of Tyrants that wildly exceeded the length of the version on the album and we also got a taste of where the band might be going next with the only new song on offer tonight, 7; a song of slower tempo, crashing drums and brooding guitars.

An expectant audience awaits Catfish and the Bottlemen @ O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

An expectant audience awaits Catfish and the Bottlemen @ O2 Guildhall Southampton 12/11/15 (Simon Reed)

Based on the reaction Catfish received tonight, that new material and further touring on offer to promote it simply can’t come soon enough.

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Photography & Review by Simon Reed. Simon has his own great website right here: www.musicalpictures.co.uk

Catfish And The Bottlemen at Guildhall Southampton November 2015

 

 

 

 

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