Catfish and The Bottlemen – Corona Theatre, Montreal, CA (3rd May, 2017)

As the last notes of Dean Martin’s ‘Ain’t That A Kick In The Head’ subside, the lights go down. A cheer rises up from the audience. The anticipation in the air is almost palpable. Soon, the steady cheers grow into shrill screams of pure exhilaration. Catfish and The Bottlemen have walked on to the stage.

Having been previously treated to, support act, The Worn Flints‘ epic guitar shredding skills the crowd is fully charged with energy. Coming from Columbus, Ohio, the three piece rock group draw their influences from “Blues, Psychedelic Rock, Folk, and Reggae with a focus on abstract song structures and extended heavy instrumentation”. Front man, Kenny Stiegele captivates the audience by prancing around on stage with infectious energy. It’s not long before the audience is transfixed, cheering him on with every shred of his guitar.

At 9pm Catfish and The Bottlemen assume their positions on stage, seemingly unaffected by the shrieks and cries of adoration. Without a moment’s hesitation the band dives headfirst into the opener of the night- ‘Homesick’. Screaming is forgotten as fans join in to sing the song word for word. By the time the chorus is sung the entire concert hall is buzzing with an increase in its already relentless energy.

Having just finished their first (and very successful) South American tour, the Welsh rockers are no strangers to large, excited crowds. Although the audience of Corona Theatre isn’t exactly the largest crowd the band have played to before, they give it their all without holding back. What the night’s audience lacks in numbers, it makes up for in its energy and participation.

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Lead vocalist, Ryan “Van” McCann springs across the stage, recklessly playing his guitar, knocking over his microphone, and winking and smiling at the enthusiastic fans. He flawlessly belts out and switches up the words to his clean-cut rock songs. His energy is unwavering and contagious. By the time the band is done playing ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Soundcheck’ the entire room is bouncing.

Barely stopping for breaths between songs, McCann gushes numerous “thank yous” to the audience, calling out to them during songs in order to keep up the rapidly increasing hype. It’s difficult to pin point a certain moment during the night that was, frankly speaking, absolutely insane. These lads are well aware of what they want and what they do to get it. The audience laps up every second of the show, moshing, cheering, howling and screaming.

Catfish and The Bottlemen’s live performances breath new life into their studio recorded songs. No two live shows are alike. ‘Business’ live is extended and given the sort of tension that keeps the audience on edge and engaged, eagerly waiting for the cue to belt out the next lyric. Their song, ‘Twice’ was quite an exciting number. It was met with high energy from both the fans and the band. Think flashing lights, heavy bass, bouncing band members and moshing fans.

After this high energy performance 3/4 of the band leaves the stage and McCann is left standing alone, acoustic guitar in hand. He croons the words to ‘Hourglass’ and the audience is immediately spellbound. Hands go up and begin to sway as the fans takeover the song. McCann doesn’t even have to try at this point. He leaves this one to his devoted fans.

The band bring back their highly infectious energy with full force for the last three tracks. The entire theatre is bouncing, swaying and moshing again. The audience takeover ‘7’ and ‘Cocoon’, singing the entire choruses with glee.

The night ends with ‘Tyrants’, a song that Catfish have been ending all their shows with since the beginning. The tension and energy of the song make it seem as if it’ll go on forever. It plays for a good ten minutes. The epic drums and swinging guitars leave the fans bewitched. “Montreal! Thank you for having us!”, McCann shouts, “We are Catfish and The Bottlemen! See you in a bit!”. The song ends in total chaos and one can see that the band is having a hell of a time on stage. By this point is the audience is reeling. The initial high energy has not subsided and fans are still buzzing, fueled with adrenaline.

From playing parking lots to selling out Wembley Stadium, Catfish and The Bottlemen have come a long way and don’t look like they’re going to stop anytime soon. By bringing back good, old fashioned guitar music, this traditional, no frills rock band is one to watch. Their goal to sell out stadium upon stadium is set and clear. By the looks of it, their goal seems within their reach.

‘The Ride’ is out now via Island Records