Catfish are a band with a great reputation formed by almost constant gigging across Europe and a superb 3rd album release last year. I haven’t been able to see them live and so I grabbed this live album to finally find out why people were talking about Matt Long as the next guitar superstar and Catfish as the hottest rock band on the scene.

The album was originally a Europe wide livestream with no actual audience attending due to Covid-19 limitations. It was recorded as part of the Blues Maastricht Festival in Holland and one of the features of this recording is that the band hadn’t actually played together in five months and went into the show with no rehearsal in order to capture the purity of their live set. Very brave but, in the end, a clever move as the album is one of the best live albums I’ve heard in years. It comes as a package with the music and DVD of the show.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t perfect but truly live music very rarely is. Where it wins is in a powerful and assertive sound that is even more exciting and involving than their recorded output.

So, why am I so excited? Kicking off with ‘Broken Man’ there is a sense of darkness and imminent threat about Matt’s introduction which remains as the song develops and is added to by Paul Long’s Hammond and stunning back line from Adam Pyke on bass, Kev Hickman on drums.

‘Break Me Down’ follows and this has the full package: great riffs, powerful vocals and pace - the track moves at 100 miles an hour and had me bouncing off the walls of my office.

‘Ghosts’ puts us in singer/songwriter territory with a very different style of vocal from Paul Long but there is still the underlying feeling of a power Blues band. A gorgeous solo from Matt leads to a furious finale and the track shows a very different side to Catfish.

The ten tracks on show here all have character and clearly show the enormous talent of Matt Long, both as a guitarist and singer – especially on ‘Archangel’ – and Paul Long as a Hammond and piano player.

Catfish sit in what used to be called Blues/Rock territory and, in truth, they are not unique in what they do but this album clearly shows that they write some fine songs and as a live force there are very few bands who can compete with them.

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