Van McCann is the coolest frontman in the world, it’s official. He strolled onto stage wearing a blue and black striped top, with a mop of brunette hair. The band walk past Ewan McGregor’s massive smiley face plastered on the bass drum as if that’s not a little bit strange. The crowd went absolutely nuts – even more so when the guitar and drums exploded into their opening track ‘Rango’.
The sound was album-perfect. They command their instruments to such a high quality. The guitar riffs in every song were on point, and they make it look so damn easy. Van McCann’s vocals were gliding and immense. His tone is not dissimilar to Luke Pritchard of the Kooks, but McCann manages to maintain his velvety coolness over rapid drums and intense guitar, not to mention the out of tune crowd involvement.
A highlight of the set was the song ‘Business’. It lifted the room and had everyone singing along. There were moments that really saw McCann’s true talent come to light. When a song came to an end and sadness spilled into the room, Van stood alone with his electric guitar and re-sang the chorus. Most poignantly, slowing down ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Homesick’. Everyone in the room sang together with the band – the intimate venue making it all the more exceptional.
Catfish and the Bottlemen didn’t get their break so easily. They started making music in 2007, and only got signed to the label they’re with now last year. Perhaps that’s why they’re such a humble band – in the gaps between each up-tempo song, they take the time to let everyone know just how taken aback they are. Amidst the shrieks and declarations of love, McCann’s genuine modesty is palpable. They just don’t know they good they really are.
From the balcony of the Institute in Digbeth, the crowd for about fifteen rows was bouncing. At one point, a guy was stood on another’s shoulders, and a row of girls on guy’s regretting shoulders were all holding hands. Towards the end, crowd surfing ensued and then quickly stopped by large men in yellow jackets. Catfish and the bottlemen, professional as ever, carried on untouched by the sweaty bodies all over the place.
The humbled band ended with ‘Tyrants’, which saw the most people carried towards the stewards, and the most excitement. I think it’s fair to say in all my experience of gigs, I’ve never seen a crowd go so crazy, but rightfully so for such talented individuals who completely deserve their success.