Catfish and the Bottlemen - Manchester Academy

As I stand in the cramped, box-like venue that is the Manchester Academy, watching young Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen performing to an adoring, sold out crowd, I can't help but wonder at just how a certain novelty act rock duo got dubbed 'the saviours of rock'. Surely they should be looking at these guys instead? OK, CATB might just use guitars as nature intended, rather than effect-laden basses, but still....

On record the music simply holds its own. Catchy, clever tunes that sound original and are not just shameless pastiches of other bands' songs. The music is at once radio-friendly and fun. Live, it's a whole other beast. To be fair it is at times difficult to even hear frontman Van McCann with the crowd singing along as loudly as they can. There are times when he stops trying, as with breakthrough single 'Kathleen', letting the audience take over vocal duties. McCann is a natural showman, with that perfect mix of rock 'n roll bravado and endearing friendliness, frequently thanking the crowd for their enthusiasm, for selling out the show, for buying the album. It would seem he can't believe his luck.

As more crowd surfers are pulled out of the pit, the short - but sweet - set, which includes b-side 'Asa' and the lovely 'Hourglass' (performed solo by McCann) powers on. While radio hits like 'Cocoon' and 'Fallout' are greeted with appropriate amount of hysteria, album tracks like the excellent 'Business' and a roof-blowing rendition of 'Tyrants' which closes the show, prove that this band is far more than the sum of its parts. No tricks, no gimmicks. No, these guys got here on their own with just an excellent collection of proper tunes and honest hard work. And if the reaction from this show is anything to go by, it seems they have have the formula worked out just fine thankyouverymuch.

Setlist: Rango, Asa, Pacifier, Sidewinder, Fallout, Business, 26 Kathleen, Homesick, Hourglass, Cocoon, Tyrants

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