The refracted light show falls like coins through the air at The Roundhouse, and Johnny Marr stands at its epicentre, face raised to the heavens, eyes closed, hands stroking his glittered Fender Jaguar.
Once I’d waded through the swathes of leather jackets, fishnets, tatted limbs and the pervasive scent of mixed high-end cologne towards the stage, I caught sight of the giant ‘Y’ hanging down from the ceiling. In a bold white font set in a red circle filled with repeats of the acronym ‘TMTF’, it mimicked the British Board of Film Classification certificate for an ‘18’ rated film. This set rather lofty expectations for the show to come. Would we be treated to strong language, nudity, sadistic violence and explicit scenes of a sexual nature (if justified by the context)?
Entering the stage to a foreboding, haunting whir that brought to mind the sound of the Tardis materialising from deep outer space, Franz Ferdinand instantly conveyed a timelord’s aura, with their jovial poise, funky shirts and Alex Kapranos’ charming, wry charisma. Scanning over the crowd with a mischievous smile whilst coolly sat on his stool like a 50’s lounge singer, Kapranos began with the air of a man unfazed by expectation; unshaken by the challenges that come with being best known for the glories of the past rather than the shimmer of the present.
The lights dimmed to an eerie darkness and Albert Hammond Jr.’s voice boomed across the room, reciting the spoken word intro to The Doors’ ‘The Soft Parade’, in which Jim Morrison bullishly asserts that, “You cannot petition the lord with prayer!” Beyond Morrison’s Nietzchean, anti-theistic worldview, this brazen monologue is often perceived as an outpour of Morrison’s frustrations with what audiences expected of him, and his desire to just be himself. As a guitarist of The Strokes - one of the biggest indie bands in history - now touring as a solo artist, this was an intriguing, suggestive choice of introduction. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hammond Jr.’s setlists never feature a single Strokes song, despite the rapture he knows they’d be received with.
One of the many great things about Edinburgh trio Young Fathers is the way that they seem to defy the predictable trajectory of the pop career. Some of the greatest bands in musical history like The Smiths or Stone Roses have become a little flabby around the edges after a while, either adding superfluous musicians where they're not needed or lengthening their tracks to so called 'epic' proportions. Young Fathers seem to be going the other way.