"They might just be Britain’s next generational band." Young Fathers put on a ferociously loud, soul-stirring show for the ages at the legendary Royal Albert Hall

Acclaimed Scottish alt-indie-soul trio Young Fathers upstage Noel Gallagher, The Who, The Chemical Brothers and more during a memorable night in London

Young Fathers on stage
(Image: © Getty Images)

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Sandwiched on a stacked bill of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, all put on to aid the Teenage Cancer Trust, between huge legacy artists such as Noel Gallagher, The Who and The Chemical Brothers, Scottish alt-indie-soul trio Young Fathers certainly stand out as arguably the most low-profile act performing across this week of fundraisers. But with a Mercury Prize win and a couple of recent BRIT nominations for Best Band and Best Album under their belts, this is the perfect chance to show they belong in such esteemed company.

Before they can, London indie-soul solo artist Murkage Dave makes light work of warming up the sold-out, historic venue all by himself. There’s the usual polite applause and curious glances as he arrives onstage, but through Dave’s fantastically catchy, self-aware and insightful 2000s R&B-meets-90s indie rock mash-up of tunes like Please Don’t Move to London It’s a Trap, World I Want to Live In and Murkage Dave Saved My Life, plus his sheer force of personality, he leaves like a conquering hero.

Young Fathers' 2023 album Heavy Heavy was one of the best of the year, and they’ve rightly been lauded for it, but as great as their utterly unique mixture of progressive rock, classic hip-hop, industrial electronica and traditional African rhythms is on record, it is absolutely dwarfed by their live experience. The lead trio are joined onstage by their usual live drummers, backing vocalists, guitar and keyboard players, but the thing that will make this particular set live long in the memory is the addition of the Manchester NIA Choir backing them up. Seeing about thirty people onstage at once, all belting out such spinetingling, powerful songs as Get Up or Geronimo, is a breathtaking sight. The choir is every bit as energetic as Young Fathers themselves, all-singing, all-dancing, everyone onstage together one giant, jumping, moving, thrusting mass of humanity, utterly lost in the music and the moment. 

As great as it all looks, though, that’s nothing compared to how it sounds; the Royal Albert Hall is famous for its great acoustics, and it just about manages to control the sheer sonic weight of Young Fathers and the NIA combined. There’s been much talk over the years about the likes of Motörhead and Manowar being the loudest bands of all time, but even the likes of Lemmy would wince at the ferocity of noise that this evening generates. You can almost feel the sound of the choir barking Young Fathers frontman Kayus Bankole’s scream of “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” hitting you in the face during the final crescendo of closing track Toy. Live music in the modern era rarely feels so raw, so commanding or so brimming with life and passion as this.

Young Fathers may not have the profile or the iconic back catalogue (yet?) of some of the other artists playing across this week. But they have just as much natural star power, just as much talent and have unquestionably just put on the most spectacular show of the lot. They might just be Britain’s next generational band: the skies truly are the limit.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.