Monday, March 04, 2024

Catfish Bring the Blues to KK’s

On a dark, cold, rainy night in the backstreets of Wolverhampton, eager blues-rock fans were transported to the balmy deep south by Catfish, a band who have won a strong following in the last decade from their regular UK and European tours and powerful, passionate, intense festival appearances.

A regular feature as nominees and winners in the British Blues Awards since 2016, Catfish comprise Matt Long on lead guitar and vocals, his father Paul Long on keyboard and vocals, Adam Pyke on bass and new member Phil Wilson on drums. It’s a tight, seasoned line-up which creates the space for Matt Long to show off the stunning guitar skills that have secured numerous awards from the music industry.

Catfish’s music is a blend of soulful blues and hard punching rock, occasionally softened with keyboard oriented songs that bring in Paul’s more relaxed presentation to balance Matt’s impressive vocal range. Add in spirited, precise, charismatic bass from Adam Pyke and tight, supportive percussion from Phil Wilson and you have an efficient four part machine that ebbs and flows from gentle Sunday afternoon blues to screeching, hard punching rock. A carefully crafted set leaves plenty of variety with barely a moment for the audience to draw breath.

With three studio albums, a live album and an acoustic EP behind them, the band are currently working on a new EP which they say is already longer than most bands’ LPs. Opening the night with the blistering blues-rock powerhouse of ‘Up in Smoke’, the band led the audience through a series of new compositions and old favourites including ‘Change My Ways’, ‘Soulbreaker’ and ‘Broken Halo’.

At one point, Matt shared some personal news, that both he and his father had been diagnosed with cancer and that both of them are thankfully now at the end of their respective treatments. The physical toll on Matt meant that his performance was a little more restrained than usual and he sat down to play through the songs where Paul took the lead on keyboards. A ripple of appreciation from the audience both celebrated and supported the band’s commitment to their art through personal struggles. It’s also fair to say that the music and particularly the live shows have given both of them the energy and focus to win this particular battle.

Two songs from the new EP ended the first half; ‘London’ and ‘So Many Roads’ and the second half launched with a song which Catfish fans have quickly come to love and expect, ‘Broken Man’.

Ending the show with the favourite ‘Make it Rain’, KK’s Steelmills’ smaller Lounge was the perfect venue as the audience fell to a reverent silence, Matt Long’s whisper quiet guitar barely audible, pulling the audience in close, hanging on every note before the thumping, uplifting finale punched the audience back into the night. The dexterity, precision and sheer range of Catfish’s performance shows why, once again, they are a nominee in the UK Blues Awards 2024 for UK Blues Band of the Year and Matt is a nominee for UK Blues Instrumentalist of the Year.

The current tour takes Catfish across the UK and Europe right up to the end of 2024 in both solo gigs and festival appearances and the finishing touches are being applied to the new EP from Catfish, entitled ‘London’, so look out for it very soon.

Peter Freeth



Images: Peter Freeth

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