Why? and Young Fathers @ Central Methodist Hall, Manchester 10/10/12
Young Fathers absolutely killed it last night at the Central Methodist Hall on Oldham Street in Manchester.
I only knew the venue from it being a polling station in the two years that it was round the corner from me, beginning at the time when you could afford to vouch for the unelectable socialist candidate before the spring of 2010 when Tony Lloyd keeping his seat was a small help to the little that could be done to keep the others out of a majority.
Despite a considerable session with a handful of my less palatable friends, concluding with one of their number vomiting on the floor of my flat during Channel 4′s Alternative Election coverage, the absence of alcohol in the building was a factor that remained constant between this and that visit.
But back to the point, Young Fathers were beyond everything I hoped they’d be live. Both inclusive and isolated onstage, and present but distant afterwards, they were among the more kinetic acts I’ve seen in recent years. Laptop drones, a fella smashing a floor tom and three vocalists sharing duties, sharing stage and sharing presence lead to a different kind of manifestation of hip-hop act. Though a significant amount of the music was recorded, every little vocal sample and submerged melody was recreated vocally in real time.
What they’re about would be difficult to sum up in a couple of sentences, but if Tape One (included on SKRBBLR’s mid-2012 best of) didn’t draw significant enough attention to their growing importance then watching them live ought to.
Throat problems had prevented press interviews with Yoni, ours included, which I’m sure you’ll agree was rubbish for everyone, but Why? didn’t cut their set short.
They leaned on material from their acclaimed 2008 release, Alopecia, with nine tracks, ‘The Vowels Pt. II’ being the best received. Only five tracks from Mumps, Etc and a couple from the Sod in the Seed EP surfaced.
The echoing sound in the fairly vast hall might have benefited from turning the volume up on the rest of the band. Harmonies could have soared higher and it’s always a waste to not draw attention to the brilliant performance of Yoni’s brother Josiah, but the double drummer set-up gave the peaks of ‘These Few Presidents’, ‘The Hollows’ and ‘A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under’ some punch.
Despite the mixed reception to their latest two releases Why? still deliver on their fans hopes and though the new songs found it hard to match the celestial heights of whatever your favourite song from Alopecia is ‘Jonathan’s Hope’ and ‘Bitter Thoughts’ did a pretty good job.
And considering some mixing issues the gig will still be the best mangled throat medley I hear this year. Why? are still doing Why?.
Photo by Chris Carr