October 16, 2016

Catfish and The Bottlemen at The Danforth Music Hall - Concert Pictures

The scene: a bar near The Danforth Music Hall, an hour or so before Catfish & The Bottlemen are to take the stage. Photographer B. Hartling and I are sitting in front of pints of Guinness, admiring the vinyl version of CATB's latest, The Ride. It strikes me, and not for the first time, that admiring an album cover and looking at all the details inside is a lost art in the age of digital. I stare at the image of a crocodile munching on its own tail. What's it all mean?

The scene: inside The Danforth Music Hall, waiting for CATB to hit the stage. I always think it's a good sign when the crowd cheers for the sound check. It means they're chomping at the bit, ready for the rock show to begin. And something told me that this would be a proper rock show.

Now, truth be told, this was not going to be my first CATB experience. I saw Catfish & The Bottlemen when they played The Phoenix Concert Theatre. Those pics are here. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the full CATB experience on that night. This night would be different.

Smoke filled the air and that crocodile from The Ride cover was in full glory on the back wall of the stage. Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" rang out from the PA and the lights went out. The crowd roared and CATB took to the stage.

The audience took over singing opening track "Homesick" right away. The low-end of the bass and drums pound your chest and Van McCann's voice pours over you while the guitars wash over everything else. I love a good rock show and this was the very definition of a good rock show.

The songs came fast and furious. One of my favourites, "Kathleen", from their debut The Balcony, was next, followed by "Soundcheck" from the new album. "Rango" was a big sing-along tune, as was the chorus of "Fallout". They got the acoustic guitar out for "Hourglass" and pretty much let the audience sing the tune.

Other than "Hourglass", the pace never really lets up, but they know how to play with the dynamics enough to give the show flow. They bring it down just enough to make sure that when they slam it home it really slams. All of the music was accented by a wicked light show and tons of dry ice.

Towards the end of the set, I realized that CATB is one of those bands that doesn't go through the charade of the encore. You know, the big "Good night, Cleveland!" followed by everyone cheering for a few more songs we all know are coming anyway. Does an encore really make for a better show? It's a pretence and it's a sham. A rouse. A game. Everyone knows it's all planned. I don't mind it when it happens, but I applaud a band with the guts to forego this rock cliche and finish off strong, just like CATB did with the triple-threat of "7", "Cocoon" (another of my all-time favourites), and "Tyrant".

Catfish & The Bottlemen play great rock songs without a lot of superfluous crap that comes with many live shows. For them, it's all about the songs, as I think it should be. Catfish & The Bottlemen put on a solid rock show. Go see this band live if you get the chance.

Check out some tunes from their set while you admire B's photos from the show.