From the ticket wielding fans at Brixton station to the merch-clad teens milling around outside the venue, there is no getting away from the exciting atmosphere surrounding Catfish & The Bottlemen’s first of two sell out shows at Brixton Academy.
They’ve had a meteoric rise to success over the past two years after grafting away since their early teens, and the release of the four-piece’s debut album The Balcony propelled them into the mainstream.
Tonight is the seventh night on a mammoth 12 date, sell out tour sweeping the UK and is no doubt another milestone achievement for the quartet.
Opening with Rango, the band set the pace for the rest of the energetic and atmospheric evening. It’s the perfect beginning to the Catfish story – a song about escaping from a mundane life to pursue your dreams of being in a successful band, (“As soon as I get out of here I plan on coming back for nothing, but then again there’s you.”) They then proceed to spend the next hour proving just why they are so remarkable.
Segueing straight into Pacifier, at only two tracks in, the vibe in the room is electrifying. Swiftly moving onto Sidewinder, it’s just as sultry as ever with frontman Van McCann purring “I want to endorse you, I want you to exhaust me.”
Over the course of the evening every track from The Balcony is played, with each one receiving an overwhelming sing-a-long. This is understandable with tracks like Kathleen and Fallout with their stadium rock sound and blistering guitar riffs which helped the band break through, but even Business and 26 gather just as much crowd participation, with the whole room shouting: “All your friends they can fucking do one, I’ve had a rough night.”
7 is the only new song to make an appearance in the 12 track set. It’s the first time that McCann puts his guitar down, instead opting to stalk the stage while howling: “I’d beg you, but you know I’m never home, I love you but I need another year alone.”
The climax of The Balcony and the climax of this evening is Tyrants. The pulsating drum beat is a slow builder before exhilarating riffs tear through the entirety of the Brixton venue.
Catfish & The Bottlemen’s songs have always been anthemic with a sound big enough to fill stadiums, now it seems the band are closer than ever to reaching that potential.
Words and photo by Shannon Cotton