Young Fathers made sure their Edinburgh International Festival debut was one to remember
They might have taken a circuitous route, but tonight Young Fathers find themselves at the heart of establishment Edinburgh. And they duly rip it up.
Having started out in the city’s underground scene in less prestigious venues than The Hub on the Royal Mile – their rehearsals often stymied by draconian noise rules – they’re now sharing the EIF programme alongside post-rock behemoths, classical virtuosos and the odd Broadway star.
But that’s all largely irrelevant: this is about one band only, and when the trio emerge on stage one by one after an anticipation-stoking 20 minute delay, the noise in this former church is near deafening. And Young Fathers, bolstered by a manic percussionist and two backing singers, ensure it stays that way for the next hour.
All three members have radically different performance styles: the tall, bearded Alloysious Massaquoi cuts a formidable profile as he beats away on a drum; ‘G’ Hastings is practically inscrutable, staring blankly at the audience between songs until he eventually launches into a passionate declaration that “we are all migrants” and “we’re all in this together”, which gets a big cheer; Kayus Bankole, meanwhile, is a ball of effervescent energy, flinging himself around the stage with thrilling abandon.
Together, this all adds up to one of the most rib-shaking, retina-blinding live shows you’re ever likely to experience.
Musically, it’s futile to try to categorise this group. They channel the raw physicality of ’60s soul, the brittle, uncompromising attitude of post-punk and the dark authenticity of near-contemporaries Massive Attack (with whom they recently shared a tour bus).
But more than this, Young Fathers are possibly the most singular, assured band of the here and now.
‘Shame’ and ‘Get Up’ are highlights in this bombastic set, but so is a foot-stomping “new one” called ‘Only God Knows’, which hints that in future years the International Festival may just have to keep the Usher Hall free for these hometown heroes. Now that would be something.
Young Fathers play The Hub again tonight (15 Aug), more info
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Main image: Johnston Press