Back in 2014, Edinburgh’s Young Fathers scooped the Mercury Music Prize to everyone’s surprise but their own. This charismatic trio are artistically fit and they know it, drinking in a proper Barrowland reception in the utter confidence that they have the musical goods to justify the almost aggressive ardour coming their way before they have even triggered a sample.
Young Fathers, Barrowland, Glasgow ****
Their new album Cocoa Sugar is another dense trip into their taut, dramatic headspace, packed with their usual soulful tunes, ambivalent lyrics and intoxicating backing tracks. The nosebleed intensity of opening number What A Time To Be Alive was typical of their delivery. There is not an ounce of fat on a Young Fathers set, nor a wasted second as songs were dispensed like short, sharp explosions.
Their trusty touring drummer Steven Morrison must take due credit for the sheer momentum of their show, hammering relentless on his stand-up kit, supplemented by occasional skin-bashing input from Ally Massaquoi while Graham “G” Hastings, a man who looks like he hasn’t seen daylight in quite some time, took care of the electronic beats and the low frequency bass pulse which gives their music such a primal thrust.
The band performed against a blank screen – possibly an invitation to make of them what you will, but also devoid of visual stimuli because Young Fathers don’t actually need anything more than the frenzied frontline of the core trio in highly strung flow to generate the heat and light in their set, which pinballed from the tribal whoop and holler of Queen is Dead, with an exultant testifying performance from Kayus Bankole, via the irresistible electro punk of Toy, which was ramped up to a hyper intense degree, to the prowling foreboding of Wow, a deep cut about egocentricity with an added layer of weirdness in Bankole’s unsettling falsetto declaration “feel so good”.
Hastings saluted the fans’ valiant attempts to mosh along to recent single In My View, featuring a bittersweet melodic hook with a dark intent. How to respond to such undeniable and mighty though hardly mainstream music? Best just to surrender to their most irresistible, frenetic mantra Get Up or get lost in the orgiastic, hell-for-leather Only God Knows, which has hopefully spread
the thrill of Young Fathers to a wider audience, thanks to its starring role on the
T2 Trainspotting soundtrack.