REVIEW: Catfish and the Bottlemen at Halifax Victoria Theatre

Last night, the Llandudno quartet graced the stage for the second night of their much anticipated return to the gig scene. Screaming fans, shoulder lifts, and thrown beers ensued, all in the name of the band promoting their upcoming album, The Ride.

For those familiar with the town of Halifax, the bands choice of venue was not predictable in the slightest, but the selling-out of the gig was thanks to the rife ticket tout problem shadowing the bands success. Taking the issue seriously, the band opted to sell tickets to their Halifax tour date using a ballot method. Entrants had to sign up, and the lucky few, chosen at random, were in with a chance of buying a maximum of two tickets that could not be sold on at a higher price.

The venue doors opened at 7, but the queue outside remained steady until 8’o clock where ticket holders were greeted by the music of female-fronted pop group, Black Honey. With a sound easily defined as a Lana Del Rey meets Artic Monkeys, the band got the crowd moving and excitement for the headliners rose. During their final song, the young audience unexpectedly formed a mosh-pit that continued well after their music stopped playing – if only for clever crowd members to run through to get closer to the stage.

After a half hour wait, the lights went down and the opening lyrics of ‘Homesick’ filled the room, instantly halting the chants of “Yorkshire” and “we love you Van McCann”.

The crowd sang along consistently, even to recently released track ‘Soundcheck’, leaving frontman Van in a state of awe after he was able to step away from the microphone. Later in the night he knocked over his microphone and was lucky to have the audience still singing away and able to carry the tune. Uncharacteristically humble, he commented on how amazing it felt to hear the lyrics back and thanked everyone. The song was explosive, especially when it climaxed with guitarist Johnny Bond’s solo, making waves and yet another mosh-pit, as the lighting flashed rapidly.

Having only released ‘Soundcheck’ as a single from the eagerly awaited album, it was a pleasant surprise to hear Catfish and the Bottlemen perform new tracks ‘7’ and ‘Anything’, thus giving the 1,860 strong audience an idea of what was in store from The Ride. They won a Brit Award for Best Breakthrough Act with their debut album, The Balcony, and there is no doubt that their follow-up album will match that success, if not top it.

When indie favourites ‘Fallout’ and ‘Cocoon’ played everyone put their arms in the air, and even those who opted for seats were visibly on their feet. The venues atmosphere was incredible, with adrenaline fuelled teenagers dancing contagiously, strangers offering shoulder lifts to strangers (despite the reluctance of security who Van had to beg to give them a break), and everyone singing along at the top of their lungs.

Treating the audience to an acoustic number, Van whipped out his guitar to perform ‘Hourglass’. The slow song won over the rowdy audience, leaving them hanging off every word, and giving individuals a much needed chance to get their breath back.

Not breaking from tradition, they ended their hour-long set with bassy number ‘Tyrants’, and an extended instrumental. There was no encore, mainly due to the venues curfew, but after the fast-paced track the audiences energy was lacking and people were ready for home.

Catfish and the Bottlemen will be playing stadiums before some people even realise they were a thing in mainstream music.

Rating: ★★★★★

Rae Coppola

One Reply to “REVIEW: Catfish and the Bottlemen at Halifax Victoria Theatre”

  1. Only just seen this review while searching for something else, we were at a bar next door afterwards and the band did indeed play an encore from the theatre window to the delight of everyone still around!

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