Pop's most introverted stars 'XX' play at Brixton Academy

Indie | Monday 20th March 2017 | Sion

“I just don’t really like any juice with mango in it.” a girl in front of me yapped to her friend “Yeah me, neither.” she replied as the London Contemporary Orchestra who was the supporting act, drew the last few chords of a mesmerising tune. These girls have been going at it about this and that through their entire set. Then the first girl said to the other: “these guys are so amazing.”


When The xx finally came on, the chit-chat disappeared in to the clamour. Thank god!


We were then all on the same boat then, cheering as we sailed off to the land of nostalgia.


Being off the back of their third album, The xx’s live experience focused on seamlessly weaving together old and new tracks. They gathered their signature stories of intimacy and loneliness and bound it in a way that showed us a new side to them.


When they played classic tracks like Basic Space, or Shelter, they came at it from a wildly different angle — reworking the intro, adding to the melody, using new samples — it disorientated you, making you wonder what song could this possibly be? Then the hook would creep in with the familiar lyrics.


The xx: live at Brixton Academy 2017

But what was most noticeable was the fact they weren’t completely shy or awkward as they were in the past.


You could feel it in the music and it reflected in their presence. They were bold. They exuded confidence but more importantly you could see they were having a good time. They were full of energy despite it being their 6th consecutive sold out show at the Brixton Academy.


The most surprising element to the gig however, was... well, considering the relaxed nature of their music, I expected the live experience to be more of a sit down, sip your wine - kind of affair. But instead it was like being in a Berlin nuthouse for club rats. 


On stage, tall pillars with mirrored sides rotated around the band members to the beat of the music, lights shot out in every direction. And every time the beat dropped it was as if Jamie xx was trying to make the roof cave in.


The bass was practically distorting while it transformed what should've been quiet, dark grooves on songs like Fiction into club bangers that saw hoards of people desperate to dance in their tiny spaces.


Their choice of a cover song was pretty entertaining as well. I’ve actually heard people say The xx’s vocal harmony is like chocolate for the ears — and what song do they decide to cover? The 90’s pop number: Sweet Like Chocolate by Shanks & Bigfoot.


Aside from the minor technical issues of a terrible mix at the start, the show was a stellar performance. There may have been a couple of incidents when Romy sang out of tune, but the 3 minute long applause they got just before they played their last song was an indication of a crowd that wasn’t just satisfied, but thoroughly impressed.


The xx proved they have all the integrity of a band from a bygone era.


Taking the effort to rework songs to create a unique live experience is admirable when they could easily rely on their classic songs to sell out shows without lifting a finger. Basically, they’re true artists. And while they enjoy themselves on stage, they want to ensure you enjoy being there too.