Catfish and the Bottlemen at Barrowlands, 24/3/15

What a difference a year makes; in March 2014 Catfish and the Bottlemen were putting the finishing touches to their debut album and gradually garnering radio play.

Twelve months on, with a critically acclaimed album and a BBC music award under their belts, they are stepping on to the Barrowlands stage to play to a sold out crowd who can hardly contain themselves.

The set kicks off to a rather unusual yet nonetheless entertaining start, which involves the Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune and a large cardboard cut-out of Euan McGregor, whom the band have frequently cited in interviews as one of their heroes, however, this is where the gimmicks end, and a night of brilliantly frank music begins.

The band’s stylistic simplicity has been criticised and called unadventurous, but it’s the lack of pretence surrounding their music that attracts fans, and this roaring, word-perfect crowd seem to agree.

‘Kathleen’, the band’s biggest single, comes midway through the set, with its infectious chorus reminding everyone of its status as a bona fide anthem.

This is followed by the explosive dynamics of ‘Homesick’ and then a quiet breather in the form of ‘Hourglass’.

Naturally, singles ‘Fallout’ and ‘Cocoon’ are also hugely special live moments, but in truth there are no particular highlights of the set, in that the band maintain a remarkable level of energy throughout.

The pantomime of the false encore is conspicuous in its absence, as is the lukewarm recycled nonsense screamed into the mic about how this is their favourite gig of the whole tour and Glasgow crowds are always the best, two very refreshing exclusions.

Their live performance not only confirms the power and honesty of their music, but also reaffirms lead singer Van McCann’s growing reputation as rock’n’roll’s most gracious frontman, even promising to listen to a demo thrown onstage by a fan.

Despite McCann’s obvious talent and charisma, Catfish and the Bottlemen are not a one-man show, and the chemistry of the group translates incredibly well onstage.

As the lights go up the euphoric crowd pile out with the dark sounds of set closer ‘Tyrants’ ringing in their ears, and a renewed faith in the existence of artists who still make music honestly and lovingly.

More Photos

Words: Ellen Renton
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

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