I recall listening to Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music in 2015: she was saying that there were just no politicised bands anymore. I’d recently encountered an energised and charged band from Edinburgh, in Brighton of all places, and suggested via social media that she might want to check out a band called Young Fathers. Seeing them in Glasgow’s Barrowlands Ballroom tonight reinforced my view from that time, as we were not only subject to one of the best live shows out there at present (gladly, there seems to be a prevailing consensus on this) but to geniune, passionate calls for ceasefires and government intervention into the war in Gaza.
Young Fathers, just this week awarded a record third SAY Award for Heavy Heavy, with a brilliant and well-corroborated support set from Leith’s troubadour Callum Easter, playing the renowned Glasgow Ballroom, seemed little different to the act I saw in a much smaller venue at a festival in Brighton 9 years ago. Obviously, with a wider catalogue, their set was longer, and the stage has seen them expand to include Callum himself (switching between guitar, glockenspiel and keyboard), Amber Joy, Kim Mandindo, and of course Steven Morrison, their loyal live drummer that sets the tone for the energy of these gigs as much as the unnerving idiosyncratic moves of Kayus Bankole.
Is it true that for the most part Cerys was, and is, right? Perhaps. But it’s an interesting point to reflect on after inserting yourself into a dance hall such as the Barrowlands for a few hours and immersing yourself at the hands of Callum and the trio, Kayus, G Hastings and Alloysious Massaquoi, as you find yourself entranced by the ecstasy, discord, and flailing vigour of the band, as well as live renditions of achingly relevent tracks ‘Fuck the System’ (Easter) and ‘Shame’ (Young Fathers). Zesty and potent, you’ll unlikely feel a stronger call to arms these days from a bunch of musicians playing pop songs than you do here. I’d almost go as far to say Cerys that if you’re looking for a Public Enemy, a Clash, a Slits, then right here in this venue, with these artists, everything’s in its right place.
Main image: Young Fathers at Eventim Apollo | Photo credit: Jamie MacMillan