Live Review Young Fathers, KOKO, London 28th May 2015

They keep things at once tight and true to the record as well as unleashing a completely different animal.

Soundtracked by powerful, minimal drums and lit up by wildly flashing strobes, Young Fathers’ entrance is dramatic but not uniform. As each member comes charging on to the stage at KOKO, they seem to have no real direction. Taking up positions seemingly at random, they launch into opener ‘No Way’ with such wild abandon that it almost feels ad-libbed. This is a theme that runs throughout the performance; switching positions countless times, seizing discarded instruments in fits of overflowing passion, trading mics and generally bouncing off each other with seemingly unplanned intentions, Young Fathers are completely free on stage. There is no cohesion between any two of them at any given moment, each entirely living in their own world, and yet, they are somehow unfalteringly one unit. Everything on the record translates tenfold, every lyric is laden with additional cries and shouts from whoever happens to not be busy pounding a drum or dancing wildly. It’s louder and more intense. Although Young Fathers hold nothing back, letting their chemistry run free, they never lose control of the music. They keep things at once tight and true to the record as well as unleashing a completely different animal.

Six-months on, it’s still largely tracks from Young Fathers Mercury-winning LP ‘Dead’ that sees tonight’s sold out crowd at their most unencumbered, Young Fathers’ on-stage energy spilling to the highest tiers of KOKO’s tightly stacked walls. ‘Get Up’’s lyrics call for a party and that’s exactly what ensues, while ‘Just Another Bullet’ throbs slowly, sending waves shuddering around the room. The explosion of sound that follows ‘Dare Me’’s tender introduction is a force to be reckoned with and G Hastings venomous hiss of “for fucks sake” leading into ‘Old Rock and Roll’ warrants screams that wouldn’t be out of place at the show of any of the world’s biggest pop acts. When translated to a live environment however ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’ is in its majority so captivating and complex that it’s difficult to decide where to look.

Rushing through a mammoth 17-song set without so much as a pause for breath, Young Fathers stomp, scream and crash their way through proceedings with relentless energy. And of course their encore isn’t ordinary either - there’s a brief pause while Alloysious Massaquoi changes into a shinier pair of wing-tips than the ones he’s had on for the rest of the night in order to throw himself, bursting with energy, into a five minute dance solo, busting out moves that could only have been inspired by Michael Jackson as resident live drummer Steven Morrison rages away behind and G builds his humming synths to screeching crescendo. Young Fathers have said on occasion that their ultimate goal is to make everyone in the world a fan of their music. With a live show of this quality sitting as the ace up their sleeves, those unsure are certain to leave KOKO with their minds changed to the fact that Young Fathers are something truly special. 

Photos: Sarah Doone

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