Gig review: World Refugee Day Concert, Glasgow

Young Fathers
Young Fathers
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One day into their reign as Scottish Album of the Year Award winners, Edinburgh trio Young Fathers appeared to be relishing the opportunity to align themselves with Refugee Week Scotland’s flagship concert more than any award ceremony. “We are very happy to be here,” intoned Kayus Bankolé with deliberate gravity.

World Refugee Day Concert - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

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In their present incarnation, Young Fathers are not exactly a party band, but they grabbed the evening by the scruff of the neck, following decent but hardly electrifying performances by Skipinnish, alternating vigorous ceilidh tunes with sentimental folk ballads, and Tantz, a playful klezmer outfit from Leeds whose set was characterised more by mischievous tempo changes and instrumental solos than by good tunes.

Young Fathers engaged on a different level, which is to say, with great volume and intensity, their stark but arresting mix of soul, electronica, R&B and hip-hop heralded and then accompanied by the penetrating throb of a floor tom. To their quaking cacophony of beats, bass and sequencing, they added an almost oppressive stage presence.

When all three vocalists shared a microphone, it was a claustrophobic rather than intimate gesture, and they attacked their performance with a sense of theatrical imperative rare among their peers. All of the members are effective communicators, but Ally Massaquoi, in particular, projected a concentrated charisma as well as raw soul in his voice. Even Get Up, the closest thing they have to an infectious pop hook, was still shot through with a pained undercurrent.

Seen on 20.06.14