What has happened to Catfish and The Bottlemen?? The first time I saw them was a sunny afternoon slot in festival tent (Latitude???) in 2013. A few singles under their belt yet to to release their debut album. It was a small, but packed tent, but still a tent. Then came The Balcony tour and a stop at Manchester’s 900 capacity Academy. Again, packed. I remember them thanking everyone who’d turned up, the sound man, the bar staff. Like they’d won a ticket to play there and couldn’t thank people enough.
Then, a couple of years ago at L.A.’s 300 capacity Troubadour. Friday night they returned to Los Angeles for a stop while touring their new album The Balance. I certainly raised an eyebrow when I saw they were playing the 4000 capacity Palladium, wondering how they were going to fill it.
The timing of the gig unfortunately meant I missed the support slot, entering as the first bars of the first single from the new album, Longshot rang out. Turning right in the auditorium, I was frankly floored. The place was full, not quite sold out, but as good as, with a young crowd who were mad for it. Not only that, but the sound hit you like a jackhammer. I spent that first track looking round in amazement. Maybe my radio diet is a little thin and they’ve been getting decent airplay, maybe they’ve had a track picked up by a movie or TV show, or maybe it’s just well deserved word of mouth. Whatever it is, I had no idea of their current stateside popularity. Not only that, but they commanded the stage. Playing like a band that have ascended to the level of the big time.
The lighting and stage set up was spectacular. Devastating in its simplicity and cut to black, inter-song blindness. One thing that hit me was the lack of phone use. The one thing I detest is watching a gig through someone else’s phone in front of me. Like their going to invite some mates round next week, to watch their shitty, shaky footage? It was instead a crowd that were too busy dancing, too busy singing along with their arms aloft and just too damn busy living in the moment. And more than any word I could write, more than any review in the world, there is no better validation than that.
Catfish and The Bottlemen know how to put on a show, know how to entertain a crowd and have now taken their well deserved place in the big time. But they still found the time to thank each and every person that was there…