Neither fish nor flesh

A hot, sweaty summer evening. On Tuesday, July 31st, the terrace of Brasserie “Wenzel” on the premises of Neimënster in Stadtgrund is still busy with people while inside, the preparations for the concert are coming to their end. But at the first sounds of music, the fans are heading for their tables. Tonight, Catfish, a major British blues band, will perform: Catfish has been awarded the 2018 UK Blues Award for Blues Act of the Year. The large restaurant quickly fills with people: those knowing about the reputation of the band – and those just letting themselves be captivated spontaneously by a very specific blues style.

Not only that with Matt Long (guitar) – and Paul Long (stage piano and organ) they dispose of two front singers, but Adam Pyke’s bass guitar has six strings. But that’s not all for particularities. The characteristic of the band is their mix of blues and Seventies-imprinted rock. From the first songs onwards, the musical influence of this era is unmistakable: shuffle rhythms, alternation between rock, soul and, interestingly, beautiful slows, a music form that has undeservingly become quite marginal. References to Jimmy Hendrix or Pink Floyd are main elements of the “Catfish” style, often only one step away from psychedelic rock.

Technically, Catfish demonstrates a perfect sound mastery and musical cohesion, the vocals as well as the drums (Kevin Yates) and the guitars being very precise and controlled and not only producing grandiose, but also very soft sounds. Some might criticise the heavy use of reverb and synthesizer effects, but these add to the emotionality of the music, for instance with songs as “So Many Roads”, or “Broken Man”. On this basis, the band develops not only a melodious blues, but also an overwhelming punch which is intensified by the performance of the charismatic singer and guitarist Matt Long, who easily succeeds in heating up the ambiance. A pity that the location does not allow for dancing, especially towards the end of the evening, with songs like the most fitting “Make it Rain”.

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