Gig review: Edinburgh Hogmanay, Waverley Stage

Young Fathers performed with confidence despite playing to a larger audience than they've been used to. Picture: John Devlin

Young Fathers performed with confidence despite playing to a larger audience than they've been used to. Picture: John Devlin

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EARLY on in proceedings, a couple of hours before Lily Allen ushered in the midnight fireworks on the main stage in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh’s own addition to the trio of outstanding Scottish talents on the Waverley Stage came perilously close to dragging some socio-political relevance into this most apolitical of dates on the calendar.

Young Fathers, Twilight Sad & Twin Atlantic

Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party, Waverley Stage

*****

“Get up and have a party… got no past, no future,” they yelped on Get Up, a hard-time anthem with a grim but thrilling buzzsaw beat. So much for out with the old and in with the new.

Young Fathers may have earned themselves the Mercury Price and the SAY (Scottish Album of the Year) award in 2014, but some may have found that this show was the point where their brilliance really hit home. The trio, loosely and only partially correctly described as hip-hop artists, are used to being heard in small to medium-sized indoor venues, but this makeshift arena event before several thousand was dispatched with bullish confidence, particularly on the minimal North Sea soul of Am I Not Your Boy, Low’s fusillade against the privileged and powerful and a new track which sounded like Talking Heads gone rave.

Had the Bells rang out and the fireworks exploded as they walked offstage, many would have been content and headed home. Yet it speaks volumes of Scotland’s cultural confidence in 2014 that Young Fathers could be followed in quick succession by the Twilight Sad, from Kilsyth by way of Glasgow. Like Young Fathers they’re not a band who carried all commercially before them last year, but their lack of units shifted was in inverse proportion to their brilliance.

Their career-best fourth record Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave made for a hurtling and anthemic emotional journey here, with a sound reminiscent at times of Editors or Echo and the Bunnymen and a dour but utterly involving spirit all of their own. “Sorry we’re so miserable,” joked singer James Graham. “We’re from Glasgow, it’s to be expected.”

Considerably more up-beat were headliners Twin Atlantic, the young Glaswegian rockers who finally broke into the upper reaches of the charts in 2014. Not as mature-sounding as Twilight Sad or as definitively thrilling as Young Fathers, their set was still well worth its billing, partly for the devotion of the large crowd which remained after the Bells and partly for the easy confidence with which bona fide arena anthems including Heart & Soul, Free and the never more appropriate Yes, I Was Drunk were humbly battered through.

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