22nd March | Trinity
Despite obvious confidence in themselves, Young Fathers showed openness and humility, frequently interacting with the crowd, all in a venue smaller than you’d expect an act at their level to play. They played with the same gusto and determination as any of the festivals they’ve performed at.
The Trinity Centre is a fraction of the size of bigger venues, yet still holds 600 people; you don’t have to squeeze into the space immediately in front of the stage to get the most out of the sound. It’s beautifully balanced there, wherever you stand.
Warming up were Belgian band Wwwater, a female vocalist, drummer and keyboard player, plus samples and loops, reminiscent of noughties Drum n Bass act Aphrodite, with relentless pounding dance beat. The synths provided a platform for a Diva-style, operatic vocal performance. The opening track shot straight to full speed. The pace remained there throughout, making them lack dynamics at times.
Their third song was formed from a bundle of unusual and tribal sounds, with assorted clicking noises and bellowing drum beats. The African folk ilk it inhabited was similar to some of the Black Panther score. Charlotte Adigery made full use of her spectacular voice, skimming around her range.
Rather than rushing to the crescendo, she frequently teetered at the peak before swooping into the upper range to satisfying effect. The final song began with her yelling, “How can I live with myself?” and descended into a loose, staggering, industrial drum beat. With a sprinkling of eerie keyboard effects, it was patient and atmospheric, showing the enticing music they’re capable of.
To a positively buzzing crowd, Alloysious Massaquoi made his way to centre stage in his purple velvet top and pseudo-cowboy black hat. Quoting Cocoa Sugar track ‘Wow,’ he looked out into the crowd and slowly said, “What a time to be alive.” We were off. No-one in the venue had a chance to catch their breath from that point on.
The drummer started hammering the floor-tom like an evil robot, the backdrop that occupies so many of the songs. ‘G’ Hastings added various sludgy, fuzzy background noises, loops and melody pieces. All the elements of the music were so distinct in their abrupt, brutal, impassioned glory; together they created a well-balanced critical mass, spawning their agitated groove and relentless momentum.
‘The Queen is Dead’ came up early, with Kayus Bankole hollering backing vocals as if crying for help in a wilderness. ‘Holy Ghost’ surged rhythmically like a hyperactive heart beat. The three chanting, “Holy Ghost fire!” over and over was like the Blues Brothers James Brown church Pastor. The drummer replaced his sticks with a tambourine, and managed to obliterate a cymbal.
Throughout the evening, the crowd felt unified. We were packed in pretty tight, yet all the dancing and flailing produced no scuffles, but a communal excitement. When we were finally treated to ‘Get Up,’ people flung themselves around like demented rag dolls. The overall energy in the venue was electric, tangible, impossible to resist. One solitary individual stood by a pillar, merely moving his arm occasionally. We began to wonder if perhaps he had died.
Following the recent trend of declaring the encore rather than ‘pretending to walk off,’ they closed the set with ‘Shame.’ As Young Fathers left the stage, a small group formed a circle and began dancing to the reggae which came over the speakers afterwards. It was one of the most unyielding and passion-filled performances I’ve ever seen; the emotional conviction in the lyrical delivery was enough to show many a seasoned campaigner how its done.