There’s a case to be made that Young Fathers are one of the most genre-defining groups in existence. Ask ten people what type of music they are, and you’d be lucky to get a repeat answer.

This is a credit to the three individuals who put on a mesmerising live show at Somerset House at the weekend, with the Edinburgh group creating a visceral spectacle full of industrial- pop, R&B, rock, dub, and soul that captured the audience from the offset and had them transfixed for just over an hour.

Kicking off proceedings earlier in the night, South Africa-based five piece The Joy fresh from their Glastonbury appearance spread instant jubilation with their uplifting sound. They were followed by hotly tipped Maeve, who, despite the 40 mph winds, managed to win over the crowd with her upbeat fresh sounding tracks.

The chant of ‘The Queen is Dead’ then rang out of the speakers as Young Fathers chose to open with their highly experimental banger from their 2014 EP. It set the scene perfectly as the sun went down, the strong winds dispersed and the Saturday night capital crowd grew more inebriated and fixated to the three frontmen, two backing singers, two drummers and multi-instrumentalist on stage; everyone possessing their own style and bringing a unique vibe to the performance, resulting in what looked like organised, spellbinding chaos.

Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and G. Hastings all met as kids, and have always followed their instinct in what direction they’ve explored sonically. This has resulted in them feeling truly comfortable with the art they create, and it shows in performance as they manage to control the audience with minimal chat. In return they receive attentive spectators full to brim with passion and soul.

Some of the lyrics might be ambiguous, but this doesn’t stop the songs capturing a place in the fan’s hearts with their dense and dark soundscapes that are perfectly suited to a live setting. Industrial bass, gospel choruses and thumping percussion are never far away, as is the feeling of a joyous union between artist and punter. But as always with Young Fathers, rage festers throughout as certain tracks reach huge murky crescendos, particularly the likes of set closer ‘Toy’ and new krautrock-esque stomper ‘I Saw’.

2011 single ‘Shame’ never fails to manifest one of the biggest reactions to any Young Fathers gig, and this was heightened further as Hastings drew a ‘Fuck the Tories’, pro-immgration call and response chant in the build-up to the song. “Say it loud enough and they’ll hear” he cried with the outdoor venue a stone’s throw away from the Houses of Parliament.

This was one of many highlights in a gig that cemented Young Fathers in their position as one of the UK’s most interesting and visceral acts. Both live and on record.


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