Young Fathers

o2 Academy


The first time I saw Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham 'G' Hastings they were headlining one of the smaller tents at the late lamented Wickerman Festival and their tribal collective edge left me blethering about them being the most exciting breakthrough bands in Scotland.

Within months they had deservedly picked up the Mercury Prize gong.

Now in support of their third proper album Cocoa Sugar the Edinburgh threesome are playing their biggest venues to date and the big question is whether they would lose any of their enigmatic magic in this less intimate former cinema.

While Cocoa Sugar may have signalled a more accessible pop edge to their sometimes abstract hip hop sound shapes, their opening including a rampantly rabid Queen Is Dead put paid to any thoughts of a sell out.

The only sell out was in the room with 2500 seemingly screaming at the very thought, at one point, of G actually uttering something, anything.

When he did the Edinburgh lad said: "Hello Glasgow. Always the best town in the world every time." And with no hint of saracasm.

 A friend of Bankole who was watching them for the first time reckoned his old mucker was the lead singer, but actually one of the refreshing things about the trio is how there is no single focus, and that there is a real togetherness spirit, with interchangable raps, Jacko soul licks and breast beating collective crooning.

Bankole wins the prize for the craziest of frenzied dancing as they blend the best of their new songs from a rampant In My View to a euphoric Border Girl with the cream of the less new including a preciously meditative I Heard.

What lets them down is outwith their control. The Academy is notorious for squishy sound, and it does not do the band any favours from where I am, as the most subtle melodic nuances in their most experimental passages in songs like Get Up get lost.


Where it didn't matter on classics such as the earworm organ loop genius of Rain or Shine and the transcendent warped gospel of Low they bring the house down.

In the end seeing a packed medium sized venue whooping to something other than by-numbers pop gives us hope that challenging, boundary-pushing bands can indeed prosper.