For indie-rock fans and hyper lovers of gritty guitar based rock’n’roll, Tuesday evening (15th November) was a very special night, seeing Welsh lads Catfish and The Bottlemen tear up a sold out Wembley Arena. I’ve been a huge fan of the band for years now since hearing Kathleen for the first time a couple of years back, and Wembley was my third time seeing them. Although their last London gig in April seemed impossible to beat, they took the challenge of such an immense venue head on, and performed a stellar set. Their energy and riotous passion on stage has always been the major appeal about them; every indie rock fan I know is captivated by their live aura, and last night’s crowd were stunned by the vivid raucous nature the band had on stage. Their music really encaptures the best types of fans; people were moshing, dancing and screaming their lungs out to every one of Van’s beautifully penned lyrics, and there were circle pits and heavy moshing accompanying pretty much every track. Fans were on their mates’ shoulders, random strangers sang and moshed together, and the feel-good love and excitement the young crowd felt was truly infectious. Van, Benji, Bondy and Bob were unreal, belting out riff after riff, tunes which are certain to become this generation’s most renowned indie anthems. To me, their tracks are on par with classics like Supersonic and I Wanna Be Adored; their working class DIY roots and infectious love and passion for their art is what the fans love about them. The band released The Ride in May this year, and it’s safe to say it was a stellar follow up to such a brilliant debut; since The Balcony was released in 2014 the band have been non stop gigging and touring and recording, giving the fans exactly what they want. Taking on Wembley arena was a huge step too; the band sold out the 12,500 capacity venue within minutes (nearly cried when I got mine), and it was crazy seeing them in such a huge venue. It made me so proud too, as they’re such sweet and humble guys, with their reaction to the crowd truly showing this.
The set list was perfect too; sometimes upon the release of a new album a band can forget about their older stuff, but Catfish solved this problem by playing mostly all their tracks from The Balcony. For me, the most class tracks of the night were Tyrants (which saw a huge circle pit form in preparation for the drop), Anything, Oxygen, 26, and Rango. Pacifer, Cocoon and Twice were also beautiful, as were some of their newer tracks like Red and Outside. They performed all their biggest hits too, opening with Homesick (following the stripped back version of the Beatles’ Helter Skelter with the lights flashing in sync with Paul’s rough vocal) and then going straight into Kathleen and Soundcheck. My absolute favourite track though would have to be Hourglass which Van performed solo with his acoustic guitar. Like he did in April, he took breaks throughout the song to let the fans sing back the lyrics; it’s such a mesmerisingly beautiful track, full of the most stunning lyrical romanticism. I was actually on my mate’s shoulders for this one and it was magical; to have thousands of fans singing back Van’s lyrics was genuinely one of the most unreal, out of this world experiences ever. Last night’s gig surpassed how unbelievably good they were back in April, just like that gig surpassed how unreal they’d been at Reading last summer; a band whose music keeps getting better, and live reputation keeps on growing, Catfish and The Bottlemen are just full of deafening riffs and this mad energy; the fact that four normal guys can produce such an unreal sound which brought together 12,500 crazed fans is what people adore so much about them, and proves pure guitar rock will always live on.
Gig rating: ★★★★★
Listen to the band’s full set list below: