A few nights ago I had the pleasure of attending the final leg of the Catfish and the Bottlemen tour in Toronto at Lee’s Palace. I had only recently become a fan of the band when a friend introduced me to them, back in April, and they quickly became the soundtrack to passing my exams. In my opinion, as fans we can like an artist all we want on the internet, Spotify, iTunes etc. We can put their songs on repeat and memorize the words but, until we see them live, we can never truly love them. There’s something so inherently special about live music. The vibrations, the lights, the atmosphere, these are all part of this exchange of experience that takes place at venues. An unspoken bond is made between performer and audience member for those few hours that are spent in each other’s presence. No more thinking about how you jump around your room to this song or scream it going 120mph down the 401 because there is nothing that matters more than living in this exact moment and listening to a band that we now have the capacity to love.
Needless to say I fell madly in love with Ryan “Van” McCann and the Catfish and the Bottlemen boys that night. From the minute they walked on stage, immediately jumping into the song “Homesick”, they had me and the rest of the 500 people at the sold out show hooked. At an intimate venue like Lee’s Palace I had concerns regarding sound distribution but my worries were squashed when they started playing. The set was extremely tight and they sounded spectacular. The only issue I had was the lights; throughout almost every song they were constantly changing and flashing at a rate that was slightly distracting and overbearing. However, this minor detail was easy to ignore as all other aspects of the show came together to create an unforgettable night.
Everyone was there for the music and that became clear when I looked around watching pals with beers in their hands putting their arms around each other and shouting the lyrics to their favourite songs. They were in love. We all were. Treasuring these euphoric moments, smiling up at a band in an environment that forces these feelings out of us. Some attendees in the front row started crowd surfing and McCann pointed them out saying how two years ago they’d be doing something just like that and how he absolutely loved and appreciated it.
Even though these UK natives already have two studio albums under their belt and a Brit Award, the vibe Catfish and the Bottlemen give off is laid back and inviting. They just seem like approachable dudes that wouldn’t mind grabbing a beer if a fan ran into them on the street and that attitude translates into their music. After every single song McCann made sure he expressed his thanks and appeared genuinely surprised at times with the crowd’s deafening singing, especially during “Rango”; .one of the first songs he ever wrote.
They write relatable lyrics about not having time to love someone, like in the song “7”,...
and they bolster their words with catchy drum beats and guitar lines in songs like “Anything” that we can dance and thrash about to. He talks about things that every twenty – something and onwards can identify with: lost and found love, ticking time and sex, among others. Closing the show with “Tyrants” left the crowd buzzing, empowered and begging for more, wishing things didn’t have to end.
As this door closes another one opens. If you missed Catfish and the Bottlemen this time around they’ll be back in October with Mumford & Sons!