3/5/15 – Great Scott

If the microphone was a wooden paddle, Van McCann would be the rubber ball, attached by an invisible elastic string.

No matter how far the grinding guitar playing led Catfish and the Bottlemen’s lead singer, he always sprang back to the mic, eyes clenched closed, howling lyrics. Even if he was hunched over, playing crunchy chords on his guitar, McCann always snapped back up to the mic, ensuring the vocals were amplified into the crowd.

Though clad in black, the band shone at Great Scott. Whether it was the explosive “Cocoon” or a slowed, acoustic, solo rendition of “Hourglass,” the crowd sang along enthusiastically.

As the dark-haired drummer—whose curls have earned him the Simpsons-inspired nickname, Sideshow Bob—whipped his hair to the beat, his big, booming bass drum vibrated the floors, massaging our toes.

Even when you mistakenly heard snippets of Luke Pritchard (The Kooks comparisons were confirmed by shared enthusiastic yelps and sometimes mumbled lyrics) Catfish and the Bottlemen’s sound didn’t feel recycled or stale. Nor did it feel like a sequel to the already-closed book of UK-bred rock; McCann and band are playing their own breed of headbanging, guitar-grinding, honest noise.

The band radiated with realness – whether it was joking about their FIFA skills, the lyrics themselves, the hint of a smile when McCann heard the crowd call his name, or the open invitation to fans to get drinks after the show. The words weren’t yanked from McCann’s throat, the guitar riffs weren’t cranked out of instruments, the drum fills weren’t mechanical. No, this arena-ready Welsh four-piece filled Great Scott with a living, breathing thing we call music.

Tyrants” (also the album’s closer) ended the set, and McCann added a “Thank you very much, Boston” before pounding out the final chords. He raised his guitar high in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, before hooking it onto a thin black wire overhead, leaving it to hang perilously over the drum kit.

Tomorrow's Great Rock Stars: Catfish and the Bottlemen
Pros
  • That energy though.
  • Both banter and performance felt genuine
  • Broke up the set with a few acoustic songs
Cons
  • McCann is clearly the band leader, the most heartfelt, and the most enthusiastic
  • Limited the setlist to their debut album material
8.8Overall Score

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