This Catfish and the Bottlemen article was written by Simon Bull, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse. Photos by Jordan Curtis Hughes.
Catfish and the Bottlemen have had an eventful 18 months. Last summer they had to cancel several festival shows after founder member Billy Bibby left the band, and since then they’ve done three tours in the last 12 months with new member Johnny “Bondy” Bond in increasingly bigger venues. There was also lead singer Van McCann’s illness last year which meant the band almost had to pull out of their Glastonbury set.
Tonights ‘bigger venue’ is Nottingham’s Rock City, and not unsurprisingly, it’s sold out, even though they’ve been playing the same setlist for the last 12 months which is basically every song from their Top 10 Gold selling album ‘The Balcony’. The only difference is the order which they play them.
Entering the stage to The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter,’ tonight they open with ‘Rango’ and from the very first line, the crowd sing along to every word, even the guitar riffs, much to Van’s delight.
Van himself is starting to look more like a rockstar. He hasn’t quite got the swagger yet, but his stage presence is felt a lot more. No more so on the one new track they perform tonight, ‘7’, which sees him ditch the guitar for the only time during their set and do his best Mick Jagger impression around the stage, and if that song is anything to go by, they’ll be playing even bigger venues on their next tour.
We do get one rare quiet moment, when Van is left alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar for a version of ‘Hourglass’ that the crowd singing along so passionately to, you can barely hear him at all.
As with nearly every Catfish and the Bottlemen gig, Van is always humble, still unable to believe that his band is selling out venues, thanking the crowd for such after every song. The feeling still remains by the time we get to the last song of the night, ‘Tyrants’, which, although is also the last song on the album, seems an odd choice to end with considering their amount of indie disco favourites. Not that crowd minded, as they were still pogoing right up until the very last strands of Van’s guitar.