Young Fathers, Liquid Room, Tue 13 Sep (2 stars)

Young Fathers, Liquid Room, Tue 13 Sep

Joyless hip hop show at odds with club setting

Club night Zzzap! is squarely aimed at the fun-loving, party-hearty student crowd: there’s a booty-shaking combo of house and techno music, an easygoing atmosphere on both the dancefloor and the smoking terrace out back, and a name spelt with three Zs and an exclamation mark. Anyone who saw Young Fathers headline the BBC Introducing … stage at T in the Park 2010 could envisage the hip hop trio as a perfect fit with the club’s aesthetic, as on that occasion the boys jumped around the stage, danced and generally had a good time of it.

The Young Fathers who take to the stage tonight are a different group. Welcomed with an air of authority to ‘the Young Fathers experience’, audience members are subjected to half an hour of harsh lighting, stark video projections and an ersatz collection of outfits seemingly chucked out by will.i.am for being too ill-fittingly garish. Even moments that should have been fun and party-starting – an instruction to ‘flap’ during ‘Albatross’, or sing-along with the ‘sha la la’s in closing track ‘The Book Unfolds’ – were issued more as commands to the bewildered audience.

The gig did have some highlights – the synthetic backing beats were occasionally augmented by rhythmic drum-thumping, and the energetic leaps across stage were still impressive – but if the Fathers choose to stick with this new, rather po-faced direction, it’s a sad day for a band we once proclaimed as ‘a crew of effortless party-starters’.

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