Gig review: Young Fathers and Petite Noir at Leeds University Stylus

Young Fathers at the University of Leeds Stylus. Picture: David Hodgson
Young Fathers at the University of Leeds Stylus. Picture: David Hodgson
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Putting Petite Noir on before Young Fathers at Leeds Stylus was something of a masterstroke.

The South African raised hip-hop artist has a strong soul thread running through him, a compelling opening to the headline act. A set delivered whilst adorning the most flamboyant of outfits, driving tracks such as the newly released Blame Fire and Chess gradually enticed the crowd closer to the stage throughout the 30-minute set.

Ever since winning the Mercury Prize in 2014 for debut album Dead, Young Fathers have been on a lot of radars. Working through the smaller venues, the Edinburgh three-piece are a finely honed act, confidently plundering their previous two albums rather than wholly concentrating on Coco Sugar, widely regarded as one of the best albums of 2018 and what has propelled them to sell out an entire UK tour (that was despondently cancelled the following day due to illness).

Undoubtedly most of the crowd were Coca Sugar stalwarts and so tracks such as Wow and Toy (the latter resplendent here with an accelerated ending) garnered the strongest response but the loyal following the band have built over the past decade since their inception also sought out earlier tracks Get Up and Low from the prize-winning debut.

Displaying a staggering level of soul and blues quality that isn’t necessarily the most prominent element when recorded, the Young Fathers sound is one of three band members understanding each other’s role and responding to it. G Hastings provides the grounded hip-hop sound with Alloysious Massaquoi the surprise live package, combining his drumming with a perfectly tuned soul voice. Kayus Bankole provides the energy, the spark.

From set opener Get Started, played in near darkness stillness, before exploding into Wire which gave rise to Queen is Dead and Feasting, there was no let-up throughout the entire set, disappointingly clocking in at only just over the hour.

Young Fathers have created a musical genre that feels like it’s their own, they have total ownership. They display the soulful punk elements and the heart realigning drum beats that fill the void between Massive Attack and The Prodigy that you never knew existed.