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today5 November, 2023 1

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It’s been quite a week for Young Fathers. Gigs in Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and two nights in their home town of Edinburgh, winning the Scottish Album of the year for a record third time and even being named in Patrick Grant’s Desert Island Discs.

This was the last gig in the band’s UK mini-tour. A home gig to a knowledgeable and passionate audience.

The crowd were perfectly warmed up by the enigmatic Callum Easter whose unique sound – Jacque Brel duels with Jimmy Shand in a dark and dingy club – received a great response from an almost full Usher Hall. Callum is a hugely talented multi-instrumentalist but tonight the focus was on the accordion and drum machine with his two band mates providing more rhythmic heft with an array of percussion including a surprisingly effective water carrier base drum. Callum’s angry stage persona makes it difficult to tell, but he must have been delighted by the crowd raucous reception. A great set.

After a quick turnaround, Easter was first onto the stage as the Young Fathers made their entrance. The band is all about the music, there’s rarely a spare moment, and they smash straight into the first song, Shoot Me Down.

The Young Fathers, Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham ‘G’ Hastings were joined on stage by singers Amber Joy and Kim Mandindo, drummer Steven Morrison and the multi-talented Callum Easter. The performance relied on the entire ensemble who worked off each other in synchronised spontaneity and provide the layers of sound that create the depth and power that is the band’s signature.

Tune after tune started with the first couple of layers, a beat, a lick or a loop and built and built as instruments, and then the voices provided layer after layer. This resulted in a powerful and complex sound which could be soulful, demanding or pop song sweet, full of musical hooks and choruses that demanded the crowd to get involved.

The set is spare with the band performing in-front of a burnt and torn fabric background and the lighting is pared back, giving a sepia, 30’s feel. The band is constantly on the move. Swooping across the stage interacting with each other and the audience in a musical perpetual motion.

The set opens at full pace with Shoot Me Down from Heavy Heavy, Wow from Cocoa Sugar and Get Up from the T2 Trainspotting sound track. The band were in great form.

The night’s highlights included the four singles from the band’s 2023 album Heavy Heavy, Geronimo, Tell Somebody, Rice, and Patrick Grant’s Desert Island Disc’s pick I Saw. Only God Knows from the Trainspotting 2 sound track gets a great audience response and I Heard from Tape Two has the crowd in full voice – ‘Inside I’m feeling dirty, it’s only cos’ I’m hurting’. Given the quality of the band’s catalogue, there really were no fillers in the set.

The night came to a climax with three favourites, Geronimo, I Saw and Toy. I’ve rarely seen a crowd reaction like the roar as the set concluded. Even the Young Fathers seemed stunned with even the normally taciturn G Hastings grinning in delight.

The Young Fathers are great live, try and catch them when you can.

Words by Graeme White @head_in_the_bass_bin
Pictures by Allan Petrie

Written by: NOW Radio