After a run of early summer shows in North America, followed by a string of summer festivals, Welsh indie rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen recently announced that they would be heading back to North America for an additional run of dates. The Fall trek in continued support of their third album The Balance, kicked off at the Ritz in Raleigh NC, and we made sure we were there.
With the Ritz slowly filling in on a Tuesday night, the unenviable task of grabbing the crowd’s attention and opening the evening fell to Juno award winning Toronto-based band July Talk. Known for their intense live performances and spirited interplay between co-lead singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, July Talk have continued to build a solid following in the States, winning over audience after audience with each new performance. Their opening set at the Ritz was no exception. The band hit the stage with their foot on the accelerator and never let up! Dreimanis and Fay, joined by guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton, and drummer Danny Miles roared through a condensed set consisting of some fan favorites from both of their albums, July Talk, and Touch, as well as a couple of new songs added in for good measure. At roughly 30 minutes, the phrase “leave ‘em wanting more,” was taken a bit too literally.
The crowd was still a bit stunned from the hit and run performance of July Talk when the lights dropped and the back of the stage was illuminated by a lighting display outlining a toucan drinking a beer through a straw (the illustration from the cover of The Balance). The four members of Catfish and the Bottlemen, including frontman Van McCann, guitarist Johnny Bond, bass player Benji Blakeway, and drummer Bob Hall, hit the stage and immediately launched into “Longshot,” the opening track from the new album. They continued with “Kathleen,” from their 2014 debut, The Balcony and “Soundcheck,” from sophomore release The Ride. The opening trio of songs would set the pattern for the rest of the set, with a mix of fan favorites culled from all three albums coming fast and furious. Backed by stellar lighting design, and led by the vicious guitar and singing assault of McCann, Catfish and the Bottlemen were big, brash, and borderline anthemic. The crowd fed off the energy coming from the stage, vociferously cheering on each new song, with some of the wildest responses reserved for songs off their first album, The Balcony.
Detractors have slated the band as being formulaic, but
their performance at the Ritz proved that the formula they are leveraging solidly
resonates with fans. Sometimes nothing
hits the spot like a big serving of a familiar comfort food. Catfish and the Bottlemen served up the
musical equivalent in Raleigh, and it was every bit as delicious.