14 July 2018

CATFISH @ Marr’s Barr, Worcester 06/07/18

Catfish LIVE at The Marr’s Bar, Worcester 06/07/18

If you have found yourself fishing for the next great British Blues band then you would be well advised to check out the exciting, interesting and more importantly, awesome Blues force that is Catfish.

I have been waiting to see these guys since they blew me away at HRH Sheffield earlier this year. Sometimes Blues music can be accused of being a bit ‘samey’ but let me assure you that if you spend time with catfish you will be treated to a diverse range of Blues styles each handled with respect and passion. That applies whether you are listening to their offerings on CD as well as their LIVE performance.

This is a band that cares about the end product. I have been to The Marr’s Barr many times but I can’t remember hearing such a polished sound. That may of course have a lot to do with Paul Long, keyboard player in the band, father to Matt Long the lead guitarist and singer, and long time sound engineer. You will also find the same care and attention and expertise applied to their recordings.

But I digress and shouldn’t be waffling on about techy things it’s the music that matters isn’t it?

Damn right and what a brilliant night it was. From the moment they hit the ground running with Hit The Ground Running (see what I did there) everyone present knew that they were in for a treat  of great music. Paul and Matt may be father and son which one would normally assume meant huge musical differences however their connection on stage when playing together is one of the reasons that Catfish are such a phenomenal LIVE act.

Matt Long is a very talented guitarist. What is especially pleasing about his playing is the respect he seems to have for the songs he is playing. The right riff in the right place and the appropriate solo for the mood of the song comes across as a very instinctive thing with him. I may of course be wrong and he may have grafted away for countless hours to find the sound/vibe that he requires but it all seems so seamless. The bonus with Catfish is that it is not all about Matt. Paul himself is a class act on keyboards, visibly dancing over the keys completely caught up in what the song requires and with bucket loads of passion. Paul has many years experience of playing but also listening to numerous Blues artists and his musical maturity shows in every way. He also shares the lead vocals and is responsible for penning many of the bands songs. Ghosts demonstrates how vital Paul is to Catfish and is a great demonstration of that amazing on-stage connection he has with Matt.

Let’s not forget the other fellas in the band. Adam Pyke on bass seems like an attachment plugged into the band that automatically syncs with everything else that is going on. His bass lines are so well crafted and coupled with steady and understated drumming from Kevin Yates rounds off a musical experience that is to be savoured

I won’t go into the whole tracks I liked best etc thing because they have yet to play something that I don’t like. What always comes across is the effort that goes into every song and the innate telepathy that appears to be going on onstage between all the band members. So Many Roads suits them so perfectly and the almost proggy Broken Man shows real skill and musicianship.

The guys are currently working on a new album with all-new material and crammed with a diverse collection of new songs. To top Broken Man will take some doing but then they have just got better and better and come to the fore in such a relatively short time and saturate everything they do with so much care and passion that I have no doubt that there will be many more award winning albums to come. Incidentally, this year they came away with the Blues Act Of The Year award for England in the UK Blues Awards AND the album Broken Man was voted Best Album of 2017 from Independent Blues Broadcasters AssociationNot bad for a set of relative newcomers eh?

The band gave us 2 sets showing all who were gathered there to listen the broad scope of their musical prowess. This is without doubt a band that is a sum of its parts. Yes Matt is a phenomenal guitarist and great songwriter and Paul is a genius on keys and crafts beautiful songs. But it is as a band syncing so telepathically that makes this such a special treat for the listener. Their pride in one of the forthcoming tracks, Archangel,  from the eagerly awaited as yet untitled new album showed through and how fitting that they should end their second set with the almost mesmerising Make It Rain. I have heard many covers of this awesome Foy Vance track but never heard it done as powerfully as Catfish. No doubt that has a lot to do with it being dedicated to the brilliant and much missed guitarist Michael Casswell, Matt and Adam’s tutor at ACM (and of course friend) who passed so tragically in 2016. I am sure that Michael loves hearing this song played and would appreciate the respect that Matt gives to it.

They even managed to squeeze in an encore, the Freddie King classic Going Down which was welcomed by a very appreciative audience who clearly wanted more but were also clearly very satisfied with a phenomenal night’s music.

Catfish I thank you for an amazing night and look forward to the new album eagerly and impatiently.

Blues fans, be extra nice to yourselves this week and buy or download one of their CDs or check out their website www.catfishbluesband.co.uk to find out where they are playing next and then treat your ears to the sound of Catfish.