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CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN played to yet another sold out, outdoor crowd and it begged the question – how long before they are headlining arenas and festivals?

Fair enough, they are only two albums into what looks to be a long-lasting career together, but this was a venue as big as Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena…so why not?

Frontman Van McCann’s modesty and gratefulness were again on display during Times Square’s bank holiday Saturday night show. Instead of heading down to play Reading and Leeds Festival, the Llandudno quartet forced a massive response from new and old fans in the heart of Newcastle city centre.

Welcoming guitarist Johnny Bond back to his hometown, the Geordie ripped the city apart with solos in Soundcheck and Twice. The evening started of dry and hot but by the time the four-piece came on stage it was raining heavily – no spirits were dampened, though! Instead, fans frantically surged to the front to get up close and personal with Catfish and the Bottlemen, who had not played Newcastle since 2015.

Opening with the classic Homesick, from debut album The Balcony, the setlist was almost identical to last month’s Castlefield Bowl gig. Playing the full first album and picking the gems from The Ride, there are some still untouched pieces that I hope to hear in November.

The highlight, for me, of the whole evening was Outside getting another play live. After hearing it at Castlefield Bowl I had to go home and listen to it endlessly – I cannot get my head around how the band manage to sound better live than on record. They have always said they release music for the live performance, but this is outstanding!

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TIMES SQUARE – no pyro, no party

Of course, this was a fan favourite setlist, blasting the likes of Rango, Sidewinder and Pacifier; Van McCann had the thousands of passionate fans in the palm of his hand. Since their ‘break’ last year, Catfish and the Bottlemen have been unstoppable. Touring constantly across the UK, newer tracks such as Anything and Red have been drilled into the ears of fans up and down the country – the band are trying to cover every inch of the land with their presence and it appears that McCann and co. have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Some things are becoming signature with Catfish and the Bottlemen: An encore is always replaced with McCann’s solo rendition of Hourglass, the crowd are always described as “Class,” and the gig finishes with an extended version of Tyrants.

Support came from ex-tour mates Little Comets, Them Things and Tom Smith. All warmed the crowd up brilliantly and would be well worth seeing headlining their own shows!

One day, I imagine very, very soon, we will see Catfish and the Bottlemen headlining arenas around the UK, and dare I say the world, and it will be gigs like the drenched bank holiday Newcastle Times Square gig that people look back on and recognise it as a milestone of their climb to the top.


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