Friday, June 21, 2024

Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen whip up a storm at a sold-out O2 Academy

  • Catfish and the Bottlemen returned for a sold-out show at Birmingham’s O2 Academy on Sunday October 8th 2015
  • Those in attendance hang on to every word from Van McCann as his frontman-swagger steals the show
  • Support came from The London Souls, a Hendrix-style rock outfit from New York

The O2 Academy‘s outer perimeter was prematurely lined by monochrome clad devotees, arriving early to resume position in view of the Welsh foursome. Chants of “We love Van!” could be heard, as anticipation built for this advanced sell-out show.

The London Souls at the O2 Academy in Birmingham
The London Souls

Support; The London Souls warmed the rain-soaked crowds with rapturing guitar riffs and heavy beats. The duo’s big sound had a full band feel, with edgy rock tracks with a vintage flair. Lead singer/guitarist Tash gave an energetic performance with lengthy, climbing riffs which built into catchy chorus’, possessing stylistics of Jimi Hendrix. The New Yorkers entertained the crowds with a real American flavour to their British Rock vibe, jazz infusions could be picked out along with elements resemblant of Lenny Kravitz.Psychedelic shirt sporting drummer built momentum for the night ahead, with impressive drum solos and harmonious backing vocals. The London Souls were a refreshing choice of support for Catfish’s entire tour, they provided a huge, explosive sound with a soulful tone which set the audience up nicely.

Catfish and the Bottlemen at the O2 Academy in Birmingham
Catfish and the Bottlemen

Lights dropped to blackout as smoke masked the stage. Screams echoed whilst individual chants could be picked out from groups scattered amongst the masses. The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’ began to tease, with synchronized white blinders lighting the stage as Van-hungry teens hoped to catch the first glimpses of Catfish and the Bottlemen.

An elongated ‘Rango’ introduction ripped through, bringing the compacted audience to their toes. Amber showers of beer rained down through the smoky atmosphere by the first chorus as the atmosphere stepped up in line with the forming human totem poles as fans climbed on others shoulders to soak up the moment.

Catfish and the Bottlemen at the O2 Academy in Birmingham
Catfish and the Bottlemen

Frontman Van McCann worked the audience with his ever-hyperactive showman swag. There was little need for work from the Llandudno four-piece as the lyrics to their entire set were performed by passionate followers along with football chant style karaoke of the instrumentals. Fans pre-empted the next lines during lengthened instrumental sections, a true connection between the crowd and the band was visible.

‘Fallout’ felt anthemic, with full capacity of ‘test tube babies’ getting lost in the atmosphere. An a cappella reverb of ‘Homesick’ chorus was fed back to the band following the close of the song, this time with little prompt from iconic Van. A quick guitar changepreceded Van’s acoustic performance of ‘Hourglass’ with stage lighting creating a candlelit ambience.

Catfish and the Bottlemen at the O2 Academy in Birmingham
Catfish and the Bottlemen

A drum solo, supported by rhythmic applause crashed into new track ‘7’, The Bottlemen received an overwhelming reception to the song as it poured out to adoring fans through emerald lighting ahead of the identifiable ‘Hands Down’ backdrop.

A short pause then welcomed the heavily awaited ‘Cocoon’ before Vann invited the balcony to stand and the crowd to rebel “as no ones getting chucked out now” for ‘Tyrants’ which closed the show.

Catfish and the Bottlemen at the O2 Academy in Birmingham
Catfish and the Bottlemen

An overwhelmed swarm spilled out of the venue no doubt anticipating their next Catfish fix. A band who have rightfully stolen the hearts of many with their sell-out tour and hit album Balcony created a storm in the Midlands putting on a flawless show which cannot be compared. Guaranteed to stand the test of time Catfish and the Bottlemen are quite the icon of the moment.

Photographs by Zoe Shannon
View the full set here.