Catfish and the Bottlemen- Leeds Arena, 11.11.19 / Louder Live
There’s a certain level of comfort that accompanies smaller gigs. It comes with a sense of security, knowing that even though these people are here to see you perform, they don’t necessarily expect 'perfection'. Some might even go as far as to say they have an amateurish feel. Arena shows on the other hand are a whole different ball game. Typically, audiences expectations are higher, they expect a SHOW, and not just any show, one that sticks in their memory forever.
Arena gigs have a different vibe, and they take much more performance because realistically it is the job of an individual/band to capture the attention and win over tens of thousands of people in the space of an hour.
After 2 hours of anticipation, Glaswegian rock band Twin Atlantic strolled on stage. The casual nature of their entrance contrasted massively with their formal attire of white shirts and a suit for lead singer, Sam McTrusty. Although it wasn’t as flamboyant as some entrances, it worked with the persona of the band.
Twin Atlantic followed this smooth entrance with a shattering performance of ‘The Chaser’ which definitely turned a few heads in the audience: not quite the sound people were expecting! Their performance was packed with energy and the songs were flowing brilliantly. But having said this, the audience remained quite mellow. Whether it was simply due to not being familiar with the band is unknown, but nevertheless Twin Atlantic continued to enjoy every second of it. They surprised the audience by playing a couple of songs from their new album, ‘Power’ which is set for release in 2020. First was ‘Volcano’, which was followed by their latest single ‘Novocaine’. These tracks gripped the audience in a way that hadn’t been seen yet during the performance, and by the time the last note of ‘Heart and Soul’ was played, Twin Atlantic had the audience firmly onside. With such an electric ending to the set, everyone was buzzing with anticipation for Catfish and the Bottlemen.
One of the things that stands out for me with arena shows is the drums. You feel them deep in your chest; it’s the kind of feeling that really gets your adrenaline pumping and triggers the butterflies in your stomach. This is something that both sets weren’t short of.
The lights went off and the 'Yorkshire' chants commenced as people waited impatiently for Catfish. A light-hearted voiceover was used to introduce them, which fits with the laid back nature of the band and reflects their chilled-out approach to the whole situation. It was as though this was now second nature to them. They didn’t have any crazy effects or over the top lighting: instead they radiated a simplicity which was artistic in itself. The screens projected a black and white live feed of the performance with the album art from ‘The Balance’ on either side of the main screen.
Catfish opened their polished set with a faultless performance of 'Longshot', which left the audience unable to stand still! This insane energy and commitment from the crowd didn’t cease in the slightest throughout the whole set. The dedication was obvious and their thrill could even be seen right at the back of the top tier.
This electricity was especially apparent in hits such as ‘Soundcheck’, ‘Twice’, ‘7’, and of course, ‘Cocoon’. The performance was tight and well-rehearsed, it couldn’t be faulted. They have learnt their craft and they exceed on all levels.
Aside from their insane musicality and the excitement of the audience, something was missing. Interaction between Catfish and the crowd, as well as the interaction among band members was minimal. This isn’t necessarily essential and everyone still seemed to be enjoying the set, but it was difficult to engage fully with the band as people. This could simply be their style and part of their act, but it makes winning over an entire arena that bit more problematic. Having said this, everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives and weren’t fazed by the situation.
Overall, the sets were masterclasses in musicianship and had the audience hooked right until the last note. The only thing that could have topped the seamless performances would have been interaction between the band and the audience, it would have made the set even more gripping and would’ve made for an even more memorable experience.
Catfish and the Bottlemen's new album, 'The Balance', is out now via Island Records and Capitol Records.
Check out the video for their latest single, 'Conversation', below:
Catfish and the Bottlemen will be heading out on a run of US shows this winter, with EU dates scheduled for early next year. Full dates and tickets are available here.