LIVE: Young Fathers – Gorilla, Manchester

Far Out last caught Young Fathers nearly a year and a half ago just after the release of their debut album, DEAD.

Since then, their exposure has rocketed, not least through their victory at the Mercury Prize, which saw the record come out on top on a list that also included Damon Albarn, Jungle and label mate Kate Tempest.

Much to the dismay of modern British sensationalism, they didn’t look like they gave a fuck, but that was probably due to the fact the trio were already a step ahead, having finished work on the follow-up, White Men Are Black Men Too.

If anything, this effort eclipses the first, fusing pop melodies with an uncompromising krautrock backing and a potent message communicated with vigour. What’s more, it explores everything from bhangra to deep house on its journey.

After a full-on bank holiday weekend, where many a music fan might have chosen to spend their cash on early season festivals like Dot to Dot or Sound City, it is easy to see how this occasion may have slipped under the radars of a few. But the Edinburgh outfit ensure no one will be going home underwhelmed.

It’s the older material that kicks things off with the rallying call of ‘NO WAY’, signalling a real statement of intent. It would appear all the ambivalence towards vox pops and award ceremonies only helps store up an unbridled energy that explodes on the live stage.

‘G’ Hastings demonstrates another talent in his locker as he can be seen warping the backing track throughout the night using the huge synth board the band have brought with them, while Alloysious Massaquoi smashes out some extra percussion reminiscent of Bobby Gillespie back in his Jesus and Mary Chain days.

It really is a smorgasbord of influences that it could be argued sound too ambitious on paper, but they come together to create a sound-clash that has everyone in the 300 capacity venue enthused.

There’s no chat with the crowd, they’re simply intent on letting the music do the talking, a factor that adds to the mystique of Young Fathers as an outfit with pop sensibilities who have no interest in being chewed up and spat out by the industry.

The most danceable number of the evening is undoubtedly ‘GET UP’ a track that for all Young Fathers’ seriousness and artistic introversion, is a straight up irresistible hook.

This is closely followed by ‘Shame’ – the lead single from White Men Are Black Men Too that thrust them back into the limelight so quickly.

To try to predict this band’s next move will only leave us looking like fools. The closest we comparison we can come up with that hits any kind reference point is that Young Fathers could be the result of some kind freak orgy between Can, Boz II Men and Squarepusher. Told you it sounds ridiculous on paper.

But how about you see it for yourself if you think you’re beyond being converted?

Patrick Davies

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