Young Fathers @ The Hub, 14 August

Live Review by Claire Francis | 19 Aug 2016

Call it nepotism, call it bias, call it a home-town advantage... call it what you will, but let's be honest. For the 400-strong, sold-out crowd packed into The Hub for the first of Young Fathers' two Edinburgh International Festival shows, there was never any doubt that the local trio would deliver a performance anything short of seismic.

Massaquoi, Bankole, and Hastings never waver, and their set is a thunderous whirl of rapid-fire vocal interplay and booming drum beats (courtesy of touring percussionist Steven Morrison, who fairly hurls himself at his kit), showing off the bulk of 2014's DEAD and last year's celebrated White Men Are Black Men Too.

It's testament to Young Fathers' prodigious talent that they play like a group with nothing to prove. Countless industry awards, along with a passing-of-the-torch alliance with iconic trip-hoppers Massive Attack (whom they supported earlier this year), have underscored Young Fathers' enormous relevance. We're treated to a new one – a frenetic, upbeat number – and by the time we reach Low the group is in perfect unity. Smooth opening lines prompt a spontaneous sing-along before the trio erupt into the song's explosive chorus. 

As ever with this band, where there's smoke there's fire. Hastings pauses to bring political bite to the fore: "We are all migrants," he barks with stentorian authority. "I'm a migrant, you're a migrant, you're a human being – we are all in this together." After a resounding cheer, he adds, "And if you don't believe that, you can go fuck yourselves!". They leap into audience favourite Shame, and it's clear that more than any other group of the hour, Young Fathers can be counted on for telling it true.