Young Fathers @ Trinity Centre, Bristol, 22/03/2018

Young FathersYou know you’re at the best gig in Bristol on any given night when Big Jeff makes an appearance. It’s an even better one still when Bristol legend, Daddy G, is there. But for Young Fathers, the whole Massive Attack group, Daddy G and 3D aka Robert Del Naja, show their support for the Mercury Prize-winning band. It’s a friendship that’s blossomed since 2016, resulting in EP, Ritual Spirit and a tour together, but now Young Fathers are back with their second album, Cocoa Sugar.

The eerie weirdness of “Wire” kicks us off with unparalleled energy, enlivening the room instantly. “Queen Is Dead” is chaotic, explosive and crazy. The trio bounce sounds, vocals and dances off each other working to build the many layers of their soundscape. Like a puzzle, they dissect the traditional structures of music and build it back up, piece by piece. Mixing hip-hop, rap and pop, their experimentation is entirely new. Bass thunders beneath shouting vocals, soothing harmonies with bass drum pounds all at the same time.

Witnessing the three of them all coordinate and balance together is fascinating. Each has such a different vocal style, stage presence and mannerisms that complement each other effortlessly. The times when all three are performing/singing/rapping together is when you see this in equilibrium; a real glimpse into the membranes of their fabric. It feels personal, almost like we’re being let into a secret. Oozing cool and originality, it’s a spectacle to watch. Not one of them is a lead performer: they share the stage without ego, just friendship.

The cataclysmic intensity only continues, as the veins start to protrude from Kayus Bankole’s neck. Each track wrestles with powerful emotion and ferocity and receives a huge round of applause from the crowd. Though the pace subsides for the beautiful and dramatic, “I Heard” and the echoing gospel sentiments of “Lord”, the heightened emotion remains.

Considering Cocoa Sugar has just been released, they intersperse its tracks perfectly into their set list. Playing on the crowd’s favourites, they choose the tracks they know will fill a venue. It’s a refreshing change from the typical ‘new album’ tour that doesn’t always play to the live qualities of a band. But they know how to please an audience. Packing tons of unique finesse in their seemingly tumultuous output, Young Fathers have mastered the live performance. It’s not until you see it for yourself that you realise how special that is.

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