- 21 Nov 16
Coming to Dublin as they did at the end of a long, extensive tour, I had my fears that I might get catfished into going to see a group I’ve loved for a while now and instead getting a hollow, worn-out shell looking to shuffle their last set to its close. Fortunately for myself, the Welshmen opted to finish things off with a bang.
Opening with their regular ‘Helter Skelter’ intro, the theatre is all flashing lights and crowd-rousing hype as the band come on stage. Their choice to lead with ‘Homesick’ from first album The Balcony seems appropriate when the bass kicks in and starts to shake the room. The song is one of the many sonic earthquakes Catfish have in their back pocket to whip out in order to beat the din of the crowd.
‘Homesick’ moves quickly to ‘Kathleen’ then to ‘Soundcheck’, barely stopping for breath. Half an hour in and the lads have already racked up eight songs on their setlist. Unlikely San Jose’s Kanye West fans who ended up paying $150 for a measly three songs (political rant included), the Dublin crowd at the Olympia Theatre are seriously getting their money’s worth here.
The hits keep coming and Ryan “Van” McCann responded to the energy of the room with a firebrand vitality of his own. The main difficult for the lead singer is that he struggles to be heard over his own band. His attempts to get his microphone turned up seem to fall on deaf ears so that he wavers between shouting the lyrics, letting the crowd sing them, or singing them at their regular level and not getting heard. It’s an annoying sticking point for those who really want to hear what Van can do with his vocals, but the whole thing is compensated by the band’s energetic style and the ear they have for building and building on the musical moment. The climaxes of songs like ‘Pacifier’ and ‘Business’ actually sound more hair-raising and exhilarating on stage than they do on wax.
The end of the set sees the band lashing out ‘7’ from 2016’s album The Ride, followed by ‘Cocoon’. Then they brush things off with a stirring performance of ‘Tyrant’, the last song from their first album. It’s a moment where guitars threaten to get smashed, crowds look like the might get jumped on, and everything seems to lead up to this tour-culminating finale. Mc Cann thanks everyone for helping them finish the tour and the band walks off looking exhausted and rightly satisfied. They deserve several pints for coming out and giving the performance they did. I’d offer to buy them one if I only knew where they were heading to celebrate...
Catfish and the Bottlemen may not be the most ambitious group out there in terms of originality, but it can’t be denied that they’ve perfected these clean-cut rock songs which come complete with catchy hooks, timed builds and are always loaded to the brim with energy.