There’s a massive difference between playing a concert and putting on a performance. Last night at the Hordern, Welsh quartet Catfish and the Bottlemen showed Australia that they’re way more than just any other British rock band. With Fyre Bird opening up the gig, it was a night I’ll remember forever.
From the get-go, the opening act showed us that it’s a hell of a challenge to get a crowd moving at 8pm on a Monday night. Although the audience weren’t too ecstatic, the passion was oozing from both members who looked like they were having the time of their lives. Supporting a band like Catfish would have been a massive leap of exposure for this band, as at the end of their set I already saw a line of people looking to snag some merch.
It seems a common trend lately to have a backing song by another band playing while the headlining act comes out. Usually it’s a song by Queen, but hearing the announcer sing Helter Skelter by The Beatles had a vibe that the crowd appeared to love. Cameras, phones and flashlights were all out when Vann, Johnny, Benji and Bob made their first appearance on a Sydney stage in years. What the boys lacked in crowd communication, they made up for in musical talent. Starting the set with Longshot, fans new and old got behind the vocalist and got on top of their mates shoulders. Straight from playing Splendour in the Grass to the Hordern Pavillion, the Bottlemen showed no signs of fatigue or laziness, as each member showed off their abilities and skills individually.
Since debuting their latest release, The Balcony, Catfish and the Bottlemen have played shows worldwide to sold out stadiums and arenas. It’s guaranteed they’ve played better shows and had better moments, but for me personally, listening to the guitar solo in Soundcheck being played perfectly was the greatest moment in live music I’ve ever witnessed. It kind of made up for the technical blunders where the main guitar was playing up a few songs after. Nevertheless, there was definitely some weird moments throughout the set. What felt like an improvised intermission during Business and just random screaming with maximum echo and reverb, Catfish brushed off all the negativity and played their hearts out. Towards the middle of the set, it did feel like the crowd was getting a bit bored, waiting for 7 and Kathleen like a Darude fan waiting for Sandstorm. When they announced that 7 was next, a jolt of energy burst into the Hordern and the audience of short and long term fans picked up the pace and gave the band even more enthusiasm than they had. After leaving the stage for an obvious encore, Catfish returned to play a very, very dragged out version of Tyrants. Hard-hitting riffs, drum solos and singalongs; what more could you ask for in a song? The Welsh boys gave everything they could to us in Sydney, and although they missed a huge opportunity to play Encore during the encore, it was in the top few shows I’ve ever been to.
Photos (Newcastle) – Gabrielle Clement
Review (Sydney) – Robert Tannous